This is one of the trickiest times to have a conversation with your teenager about any of the following topics: exam stress, future plans, peer pressure, relationships bullying, drugs, and alcohol, under age sex, gender, identity, confidence and self esteem. They are just about coming to terms with the impact of, lockdown, easing of lockdown, Black Lives Matter, racism and GCSE exam results fiasco.
In these present times, the mention of any difficult topic can be met with avoidance, frustration, tears and angry outbursts, just to name a few. This could be related to other fears about going back to school, dealing with bullies and all the other difficulties that come with going to school, fears about more COVID-19 spread, and fears about global warming etc. With all of these issues to consider, it can be really difficult for teenagers to find a way to articulate their fears.
Not being able to discuss difficult topics with your teenager can be discouraging; and the more you try can sap away your energy. You can get discouraged to a point where the right thing to do could be to give up. In these times more than ever before, your teenager needs you.
The following suggestions might help…
Take a deep breathe, take time out, give it a day or two, think carefully about what their behaviours might be communicating to you. Avoid blaming yourself; keep trying until you strike a cord. Surprisingly, a lot of the times your teenager is listening when you think they are not.
At the right time ask open ended questions, avoid mind reading, judging or jumping to conclusions, they hate this. Explain calmly why you are asking the question; let them know that you care. Share your fears, worries and experiences on the topic; make your expectations clear. When your teenager is speaking, listen, let your teenager know that you take what they are saying seriously and let them be part of the decision making.