by Jamilah Samian
TOPIC: SECRETIVE TEENAGERS
How do we handle children who seldom speak, discuss or talk about themselves in terms of what is going on with them, where they have been and so on. They answer what we ask and that is it. But never bring up anything about themselves. It is so difficult for them to talk to us as their friend.
The key words for teenagers or older children are “RAPPORT” and “TRUST”. The best way to encourage teenagers to open up is by building rapport to gain trust between you and them. Children, especially teenagers, only listen to adults whom they trust. Trust is the secret to open, honest communication. However, trust takes time to grow. The older your child gets, the more crucial is the element of trust. The strength and quality of your relationship with your child is greatly influenced by the level of mutual trust between you both. The more they trust you, the more willing and comfortable they will be to talk, consult and seek your opinion.
Some tips to build rapport and gain your teenager’s trust:
– Spend time together. Teenagers find it hard to be open when he is rushed or you yourself is rushed for time.
– Be smart with words. No matter how sincere you are, how you say is just as important as what you say. Think before you speak.
– Avoid criticism as much as possible. Criticism usually kills conversations. There are many ways of saying the same thing. The harsh way might not be the most effective.
– Offer advice only when you really need to. Don’t assume that your teenager is asking for your advice the moment he opens his mouth. Sometimes, all he wants is to express his thoughts and feelings. Teenagers respect and trust adults who are willing to listen to their problems and views.
Truly speaking, there is no real need for teenagers to inform us every tiny detail about their lives. It’s important that they learn to make decisions for themselves, make reasonable mistakes and learn from them. If they were to report to us every single detail, there’s the danger of us telling them what to do, and they’ll not learn from their own decisions. In fact, making mistakes and learning from them is a critical part of the maturing process for teenagers. What really matters is that your teenager make you a reference point for major decisions and this is the very reason that trust needs to be nurtured all the time. (Ref: COOL BOYS SUPER SONS, pp 43 – 60, COOL MUM SUPER DAD, pp 96 – 98)]