The greatest single thing that any parent can do to improve communication with their adolescent son and daughter, is to think about them in a different way. 

Decide today to stop raising a child, and to start a relationship with a young adult.

The keys to ultimate success are:

  • Spend time with them
  • Keep calm
  • Don’t talk too much and listen more
  • Keep it short – only two sentences at a time
  • Remind them of what they do well
  • Use humour – avoid sarcasm
  • Set very clear boundaries and have both positive and negative consequences
  • Only argue over things that matter – let some things go by you
  • Avoid confrontations or ultimatums
  • Catch them doing something good
  • Regularly give them positive feedback
  • Help them define the problems and options
  • Do not constantly remind them of past mistakes
  • Talk while doing something together
  • Reduce the number of questions or explain why you are asking them


Express your concerns/Ask for what you need. Others cannot read your mind, so limit your expectation that the other person should be able to guess what you prefer out of their affection for you. The best chance of receiving what you want is to speak up and ask for it.

Check out your assumptions. You are no mind reader either. Misunderstandings can arise from acting on what you guess a teenager wants.  Give both of you permission to peacefully agree to disagree at times.


Take the relationship from my way/your way to our way through negotiation and compromise. Start the problem solving by listening to and respecting each other’s point of view. Conflicts are more easily addressed when both people participate in the solution, instead of one person dominating the decision making process. Aim for a balance of power.


Give equal importance to the feelings, interests, and needs of each person in the relationship. Develop the skill of both giving and receiving emotional support.


Let good humour and fun together be a part of your regular schedule.


Decide today to stop raising a child, and to start a relationship with a young adult.


SOURCE: Adolescence. A guide for parents. Michael Carr-Gregg and Erin Shale

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