I’ve been reading a book on communicating with teens and thought I’d pass on some of the advice:
One of the first rules of communicating with teens is validating feelings. Teens feel a million different emotions at once and one of them is usually feeling misunderstood. As a child grows up, she learns that she is different from everyone else around her. She realizes that no one will completely understand her. And on top of all that, half the time she doesn’t understand herself why she reacts the way she does!
When a teenager is facing any of a myriad of emotions, the last thing he wants is to feel stupid or feel like his emotions are invalid or ignored. A parent can go a long way towards creating a safe environment for growth and maturing by simply withholding judgment and verbally acknowledging what a teen might be feeling.
Case in point: your teen’s eyes are red and puffy and a little moist. You could gasp, “What have you been crying about?” (your gasp giving your child the idea that crying is out-of-place). Or you could simply say, “You look upset about something. I’m sorry.” The second response shows perception as well as sympathy and is much more inviting to a teenager.