A Look at Current Patterns
Where do most of your conversations with your teen take place? When do they take place?
Let’s look a bit deeper into your current patterns. I invite you to consider: Where do the most connected conversations with your teen take place? And when? Conversely: Where and when do you notice the conversations feeling tenser, more disconnected?
Stop. Breathe. Feel.
You are practicing the power of naming. You are simply taking a look into the patterns you and your family experience, and these patterns are not “good” or “bad;” they just are. And this is an opportunity to notice them with curiosity and intention. Here, simply take note of what you would categorize as “working” and “not working” in your current conversational patterns with your child or teen.
Connect over Walk and Talks
Have you ever tried a walk and talk with your teen? This could be a walk for exercise, sure, and it can also be entirely leisurely. In either case, walk and talk is communication strategy, a tool to remember when you have a pressing idea to process with your teen or when you can tell they’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or frustrated.
Being next to your teen, or “sideways talking,” as opposed to face-to-face, can open the space for conversation– literally and metaphorically. This orientation often feels less confrontational and more spacious for young people. For some teens, it can be safer to be next to adults when it comes to tough conversations and topics, or even asking for help.
Other Places and Way to Talk
I encourage you to explore other ways to be next to your teen. A few ideas clients I work with have shared include the following: taking a drive, sitting on the same side of the dinner table, relaxing on a couch, gardening, shopping, or finding a bench to rest on.
Whenever and wherever you try sideways talking with your child or teen, remember to give your attention to listening, really listening. Your body positioning and your intention to hear your teen is a powerful combination for building and maintaining connection. Additionally, as you listen and hold space for these one-on-one conversations, it can help to focus on your breath.
I invite you to explore and notice which communicative situations feel the most open with your teen over time. If you’re feeling like you need support in this process or if you’d like more resources for building your relationship to your tween, teen, or young adult, you can start by checking out my 11 tips for engaging with young people.