Communicating with teenagers

John Gray, PhD Best-Selling Author, shares advice for parents on the best methods for talking with your teenage child in order to effectively communicate with them
How to Effectively Talk and Communicate with Your Teenager
KidsInTheHouse the Ultimate Parenting Resource
Kids in the House Tour

Communicating with teenagers

One of the most important developmental stages in life is at puberty to 21 years old. This is where a child begins to individuate as separate from the parent. This is where a child's self-esteem comes from - I have a voice. I have an expression. And it's so easy at that time, as the child's wanting to have their own sense of self, to have a parent be in discord with that, to suppress that voice by having a better voice. So it's a validating position but you're still the parent. And that's a delicate dance to accomplish, where the child says, I don't like this at all. I think that's stupid. Well tell me why you think that's stupid. And listen to their point of view. And then say, I think this and this and this. Don't, I have, when my children were young, I had 45 years of life experience that could pound down any idea. And so the children could easily suppress. I saw this one time when I was helping my daughter do her homework in the eighth grade. And it was too complicated for me to understand. But my brother was there who was a math PhD. And I said, Robert, maybe you could help Lauren with this. And Robert looked at it and said, oh, that's so easy. And instantly Lauren hated him. Why? Because something that was difficult for Lauren was easy for him. It gave the message to her that she was stupid for not being able to do something that was so easy for him. Children need validation. And the most important thing we parents can do is we need to learn to listen. Parents say my kids don't talk to me. Why don't they talk to you? Because when they say things we're always being the parent wanting to correct them, wanting to improve them, wanting to change them. For a younger child, that works quite well. But after puberty, this is where they need to find the truth within themselves with extra guidance from the parent .So that whole issue of validating, instead of immediately correcting, why would you think that? Help me to understand your thought here. And quite often we want to give solutions. I was so good at not giving solutions to my teenagers that they would say, okay dad, you listened, now tell me what you think. They really wanted to know what I thought because I wouldn't slam them with it. And I was always seeing the wisdom, well that makes sense. That's a god idea. Help me understand this. Help me understand what your feeling is here. I really want to understand this better. They feel seen that way. They feel the safety like little sprouts that come up and grow in your presence.

John Gray, PhD Best-Selling Author, shares advice for parents on the best methods for talking with your teenage child in order to effectively communicate with them


Expert Bio

More from Expert

John Gray, PhD

Best-Selling Author

John Gray is the leading relationship expert in the world. His relationship and health books have sold over 50 million copies in 50 different languages. His groundbreaking book, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, is the best-selling non-fiction book of all time.

John helps men and women better understand and respect their differences in both personal and professional relationships. His approach combines specific communication techniques with healthy, nutritional choices that create the brain and body chemistry for lasting health, happiness and romance. His many books, videos, workshops and seminars provide practical insights to effectively manage stress and improve relationships at all stages of life and love.

John also travels the world teaching communities and companies the best ways to improve their relationships and communication. He has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show many times as well as The Dr. Oz Show, The Today Show, CBS Morning Show, Good Morning America, The Early Show, The View, and many others. He has been profiled in Time, Forbes, USA Today and People.

John Gray lives in Northern California with his wife of 29 years, Bonnie. They have three grown daughters and four grandchildren. He is an avid follower of his own health and relationship advice.

More Parenting Videos from John Gray, PhD >
Enter your email to
download & subscribe
to our newsletter