Many of us may be struggling to cope with the uncertainty and the changes that the COVID-19 pandemic brought to us all. Teenagers who were planning for proms, graduations, study abroad experiences, and memories with their friends, are now losing many of these milestones that they work so hard to achieve. A future with endless opportunities is now uncertain, and many teens will need help to navigate their emotions throughout it all. The more you emerge as someone who they can talk to freely and openly, the more connected you will be throughout it all.
One way to provide your teen with the space to communicate openly and honestly is to ask them open-ended questions about how they are coping with it all. HRI has many conversation starters in our Parenting Teens toolkits that can help spark engaging discussions with your teens, as well as give you both an opportunity to get to know one another better.
An important part of open communication is attentive listening. HRI provides guidance on how to listen actively to others at this link. In addition to attentive listening, it is important to refrain from overly emotional responses to the things they say. As parents of a teenager, your poker face is crucial to establishing open and honest communication. Attending to your nonverbal and verbal responses when communicating with your teen will ensure that they feel comfortable being honest about their thoughts and feelings.
Giving your teen the space to communicate openly and honestly about their feelings will help them stay emotionally balanced and healthy and will give both of you an opportunity to connect. However, it is important to be aware of how you respond to ensure that you do not inadvertently close off lines of communication.