1. Slow Down to Stay Calm
When you begin to get into an argument with your teen, do you notice that things start to speed up?
In your mind, your thoughts start to race as you get more escalated. Externally, the tempo in your voice picks up and you react instead of responding to your teen.
On the other side, your teen picks up on these subtle changes and they too begin to talk faster and louder. This situation only leads to both of you getting sucked into an argument.
Yet, you can avoid this scenario and calm communication by slowing down when you notice this warning sign occurring. Keep your voice measured, even, and avoid yelling. If you need to, try a breathing exercise to help you to stay calm.
2. Ask Questions, Don’t Interrupt
Asking questions to your teen goes a long way towards building understanding between each of you and encourage calm communication habits.
Although, the type of question that you ask your teen is very important. Keep them open-ended and inquisitive in nature. They should be questions that foster curiosity and empower your teen to explain themselves.
Avoid questioning that comes off as accusing them of something wrong. Also, don’t interrupt your teen! Nobody likes to be interrupted, and for teens, it will break their concentration as they are trying to connect with you.
3. Listen to Your Teen
This piece of advice is repeated often, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t critically important.
Teens often feel that they are unheard or discounted just because they are young. Often, this comes from adults who don’t believe in a teen’s capacity to “get it.” Yet, this really puts teens in a box that is unfair.
Teenagers are more capable than you realize. No, your teen doesn’t have the life experience that you do. But then again, what were you like at their age? How did it feel to not be listened to by adults?
Use this as inspiration to listen intently and thoughtfully to your teen. Even if they say something that is over the top, respond in a calm and collected manner.
Remember, discounting your teen doesn’t help promote calm communication. Practicing empathy will.
4. Avoid Getting on Your Soapbox
Do you remember this from your childhood? An adult starts going off on a rant about “kids these days” or that they had it so much harder when they were young.
It’s a soapbox moment when the adult is no longer listening to their teen.
Instead, they are simply going on a rant or making a speech that most likely their teen isn’t hearing. In fact, if things have gotten to this point, your teen has probably started to tune you out. Talk about a breakdown in communication.
That’s why avoiding the soapbox is so important for open and calm communication.
5. Put Away the Distractions
Really, when we say put away the distraction, it’s just one object—the cell phone.
If you want to have an earnest and honest dialogue with your teen, then that means turning off your phone.
You want them to know that you are present and that what you are communicating about is important. Also, when you are responding to messages or calls, your focus shifts away from the discussion.
The key to calm communication with your teen is no secret. However, it does mean treating them with respect while staying open and receptive to what they have to say.