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Thursday
Feb212013

Expert Advice on Talking to Your Teen

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It’s a delicate time -- if not every parent’s worst nightmare -- when a child enters puberty.

Not only are their bodies changing physically, but hormones are raging and fluctuating moods are in full swing.  ABC’s Katie Couric spoke with Dr. Barbara Greenberg, parenting expert and clinical psychologist, all about how parents can talk with their teens, and finally get some answers.

Every parent wants to know what is going on inside their teenager’s head, and while the normal instinct is to give them the third degree about their day, Dr. Greenberg strongly encourages us not to interrogate temperamental teens.

Avoid direct, general questions like, “How was your day?” or “How was the date?” Teens will respond more positively to indirect questions like “How was the movie?” because they aren’t ready to give you a whole bunch of information at once. Listening is an important part of any conversation, and interrupting your child may not get you much response.

Most adolescents are discovering who they are and how they fit into society. While it might seem that their eyes are loaded with laser beams and you are their next target, they are also under a lot of pressure, both socially and academically. Let them vent; this their way of telling you about their day.

Even though the idea isn’t “cool,” research has found that about 80 percent of teens admire and want to spend time with their parents. They are struggling between wanting that precious independence and holding on to mom and dad.

Show your kids at an early age that it’s okay to talk about anything at home. Topics like drugs, sex and alcohol can be scary for both parties to discuss, but having these conversations has been proven to help teens maintain a healthy lifestyle.

It is possible to maintain a strong relationship with your teen. Just remember to stay calm, listen to what they have to say, and don’t take that groan when you ask about their homework too personally.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio