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Tips on Talking to Teens

Discussion in 'Helping an Addicted Child' started by Nick W., Nov 3, 2014.

  1. Nick W.

    Nick W. Community Listener Community Listener

    I wanted to include some tips for talking to teens, not just about drugs or substance abuse, but these mostly work for a wide range of scenarios...

    1. Educate yourself first. Teens tend to think that their parents lack credibility and could not understand "what they're going through", and in some cases that may be right. The world has certainly changed dramatically in the last 20 years. If you're talking to your teen about anything from drugs to social media, make sure that you've educated yourself on the topic. Nobody wants to be the parent talking to his teen about "smoking tweeds".

    2. Have more than 1 "talk". I hear this one all the time in therapy with teens in crisis. "I talk to him/her about drugs." It's true, most parents have a talk with their teens, but do they follow up on that? Do they check in and see where their heads are as they mature and experience more in their social circles? Talking about drugs & alcohol should be an ever evolving dialog, not just on serious conversation.

    3. Ask questions that create conversation. "Are you drinking?" comes across a whole lot more aggressive than, "What do you think about drinking?" Asking questions that require thought and discussion will also make you teen feel like you value their input and opinion.
    Daniel Lucky likes this.
  2. mdaudali

    mdaudali Member

    This is really good and describes the mindset I had back when I was a teen (not that long ago). I definitely used to believe that my parents had no idea what they were talking about (in hindsight, they definitely did). Forcefully asking one if they're doing something they shouldn't necessarily be doing will make them lie to you. Talk to them gently and calmly and they will spill their secrets.

    (I never did drugs and have never drank alcohol, this is general advice)
    Nick W. likes this.
  3. LifeOrDeath

    LifeOrDeath Member

    You have some really insightful points there. I think the best thing to do when talking to teens is to relate to them. Once they feel like you are "one of them", they will open up to you more. Do not make them feel intimidated but treat them as equals. Always let them know that you are available for help all the time. That alone will make them feel really great.
    Nick W. likes this.
  4. Dinofossil

    Dinofossil Member

    Thank you for these helpful tips. I plan on confronting a teen I know about his possible addiction, and these will help me a lot.
    Nick W. likes this.
  5. xTinx

    xTinx Community Champion

    This is a nice take on dealing with teen behavior. We have since outgrown our teenage years but I live in a country and in a family where values are very important so I guess my brothers and I never got the chance to experience the same level of angst and anxiety as teenagers in the West. If I were to have a teenage son or daughter, I'd be pretty much authoritative with them just so they don't get easily swayed by other agents of socialization and shady external influences.
    Nick W. likes this.
  6. maryannballeras

    maryannballeras Senior Contributor

    Thank you so much for sharing these tips! Now, I can say that it's really hard to talk a teenager out of addiction, mainly because they often feel that you're just there to get them clean but you don't understand what they're going through. Your tips helped me understand this. Thanks!
    Nick W. likes this.
  7. Determined2014

    Determined2014 Senior Contributor

    Wow, this is really good, I have never thought about how that question comes about,"Are you drinking?" compared to "what do you think of drinking?" It makes such a big difference, than you for the advice.
    Nick W. likes this.
  8. powerfulmind

    powerfulmind Member

    I'm not sure one what constitutes teen or maybe I'm having a mid life crisis while in my early twenties. But I feel the same way about what I'm going through as what Nick is saying. I argue and complain about my parents not knowing anything about anything each time I see them & I feel more and more alone the more the subject of my addiction comes up but they know as well as I know that it was a troubling problem for me and maybe talking would have been the best way to help me get through it all.
    Nick W. likes this.
  9. Profit5500

    Profit5500 Senior Contributor

    Having more then one talk is very helpful with teens. I never really had my parents talk to me about drugs or alcohol. I had to just figure out for myself that is why I try to come to site like this to learn more.
    Nick W. likes this.
  10. Profit5500

    Profit5500 Senior Contributor

    I like this take on handling teen behavior as well. Its a different generation that we are dealing with today's age. Its like you cannot be the intimidating parent when dealing with teens. You have to be at their level and understand the position they are in.
  11. XiaoDre

    XiaoDre Active Contributor

    Those are good tips to remember when talking to teenagers. The main thing we must realize about teenagers is that they feel as though they are misunderstood by their parents. It is important that parents and other adult figures in teenager's lives educate themselves on what is going on in the world today and how it is affecting teenagers. Parents can tell teenagers what they should and shouldn't do. Teenagers do not want to hear don't do this and don't do that so it is important to let them know the consequences of the decisions that the choose to make with drugs, alcohol, and sex. They may get caught up in these things when they are not under the supervision of their parents but at least they will know what to expect.
  12. zaerine

    zaerine Community Champion

    I think these are nice pointers or tips to consider when going to discuss serious things with kids/teens.
    The Educate yourself first is really necessary since you should be also ready on answering their questions whatever it could be. Proper education could also give them more insights of what is really happening.
  13. Twinsmommy31

    Twinsmommy31 Active Contributor

    There has to be a different approach taken when talking to teens. I have realize this having a teen of my own. You should know the fact first and also tell them straight. Don't give them the educator talk like you are their teacher. Give them the" this is how it is talk. They need to realize the seriousness of the situation.
  14. StillFighting

    StillFighting Member

    Those are great tips, and I think you really summed up pretty good how to talk to teens. I think I've pretty much applied those in my own discussions with my son, and this has led to him feeling comfortable to approach me with questions or "confessions," and he knows he can talk to me. Just one thing I would add to the first tip is to not be afraid to admit you don't know something. My son asks me some things that I have no clue about, but I let him know this and I look into it afterwards. This ties into your next tip, in having another talk. Be honest, don't act like you know everything, and follow up.
  15. notodrugs

    notodrugs Community Listener Community Listener

    Very true Nick W! Otherwise, if you don't know what you're talking about, they can easily manipulate you. Children can be manipulative even without them knowing it. So parents have to be knowledgeable about what it is really they want to send across to their kids.

    My daughter and I just had a talk yesterday that made both of us angry, well especially me for the simple reason that she was being defiant. It's not actually about something really serious like drugs and alcohol. It was more of her grades and social life. Now, she's a hardworking girl really. Her IGCSE results were mostly A*s. But I've noticed lately that she's been chatting too much with friends even while studying. In her recent maths and physics results, she just passed which wasn't really her usual marks. I did not get mad but I pointed out what I've observed recently. That annoyed her. I, as the mom, had to be firm on what I said. It is a fact which I've been wanting to tell her and that was the perfect time. So may I just add to the tips that when there's a need to be firm, you have to be. If not, you can be pushed around as a parent. It may not be a diplomatic talk but I stood my ground because that was it. I'll definitely follow up on that though to make sure the "concern" bit on my end sinks in.
  16. Daniel Lucky

    Daniel Lucky Active Contributor

    I believe that we do need to put more into keeping our younger generation off of drugs. It seems like today in all the media, there pushing it to make it seem cool, and not so bad. As I sit back and watch and listen to some of the things that the media puts out I am honestly in shock at what I have been blind to for so long. I never really paid attention because it was all apart of my life so I enjoyed it also. Whats funny is statistics show cigarette smoking in teens down, but drug abuse is way up. Teens are our future and this is a stand that we need to take. Good Luck!
  17. Nick W.

    Nick W. Community Listener Community Listener

    I deal with a LOT of parents and teens in crisis and I could not agree with you more here. The truth is, parenting is NOT a democracy. It's a dictatorship. Now, that's not to say that open communication & compromise isn't a good thing, but at the end of the day parents need to know that what they say goes. It does not matter if it's "fair" or if the kid likes it or not. Our "game" as parents is to keep our kids healthy, educated, alive, and drug free. It's not always going to be "fair", it's not always going to be "fun", but when life is at stake, I don't care if they like me, as long as they listen to me.
    notodrugs likes this.
  18. Peninha

    Peninha Community Champion

    Yep, teens and kids have an art to manipulate parents, so if we don't know how to act we will be in trouble and our kids will play us like a violin...
  19. wulfman

    wulfman Senior Contributor

    Teenagers can be very hard to deal with at times. Always stay patient and calm. Don't give in to everything but try to compromise and talk to them as if they are more mature than they really are (even if they aren't).
  20. Nick W.

    Nick W. Community Listener Community Listener

    I don't think that teens are all that hard to deal with. I work with troubled teens, and I find that if you can put away the "I know better than you" mentality, and also just be honest with them, that it goes a long way towards getting what you want. I find that changing the wording of what you say can ease almost any situation.

    There is a big difference between: TAKE OUT THE TRASH and CAN YOU TAKE OUT THE TRASH FOR ME?
    My "common sense approach to teens in crisis" is centered around talking to them the way you would want to be talked to at any given time, while knowing where you can bend & break, and where you want to stand firm.
    dejanee22 and Peninha like this.