Tips to Develop a Better Rapport with Your Teen

As a parent, you understand the importance of keeping the lines of communication open, as much as possible, with your children.  While younger children are more apt to express their feelings, when children reach their teens, they may not be as open and communicative as younger children and may begin to test the boundaries you’ve set for them.  It’s not an easy task, but maintaining respectful communication with growing children is essential to effective parenting.  Here are some tips for maintaining a good rapport with your teen, and a look at how OWIS promotes communication and confidence among its secondary school students.

Lend a Listening Ear

Teens tend to shut down when they think they’re being bombarded with prying questions.  Instead, make yourself available to listen to whatever your teen wants to tell you, even if it’s a seemingly mundane detail about their day.  Like all of us, adolescents are more likely to open up when they feel listened to.

Calm Down

When your teen is lashing out in anger, it can be tempting to respond in kind.  Nonetheless, it’s essential for you to model appropriate behaviour.  Count to ten, take a few deep breaths or walk away until both of you are cool-headed enough to communicate calmly.

Spend Time Together

Although your child probably won’t admit it, he still wants to spend quality time with you. Plan activities you both enjoy and seek to maintain a relaxed atmosphere.  Teens can let their guard down when they know the shared activity won’t be used as an opportunity for parents to criticise their missteps or ask probing questions.

Validate Their Concerns

While they often feel the adults in their world are determined to fix their problems, what teenagers really want is for parents to identify with them and validate their concerns.  Rather than minimise their problems, offer sympathy and understanding.

Give Them Some Responsibility

On the threshold of adulthood, adolescents are striving for greater autonomy.  Give them responsibilities they can handle and that will boost their self-confidence.  Invite them to take the lead in completing a project with you. Likewise, while it’s important to enforce house rules, allow your child some privileges that give the nod to his/her burgeoning independence.  Teenagers are more likely to confide in you when they sense you trust them.

Provide Reasons for the Rules

When teenagers are testing limits, you may have the urge to micromanage their behaviour or simply tell them to do something “because I said so.”  But your rules may seem less draconian when you can provide a logical explanation for why you’ve established them.

How OWIS fosters open communication and positive behaviour at school

At OWIS, we establish rapport with our secondary school students through our pastoral care programme. Our students begin the school day meeting with their form tutors, who set the tone for the day by modelling our dynamic school culture. They provide a listening ear and create an atmosphere in which students feel safe. During this time, they conduct sessions on PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic) Education and wellness-related activities. They also discuss issues related to stress, identity, friendships and students’ overall well-being.

Serving as role models, tutors help students establish mutual respect and develop positive relationships with authority figures.  This important role enables our teachers to encourage high academic achievement and school engagement, preparing students to emerge as confident, well-informed citizens. Additionally, tutors also provide support and guidance when students are dealing with academic or personal issues and are the first points of contact for parents whenever concerns about their children arise.

At OWIS, our pastoral care programme complements other aspects of our holistic approach to prepare students to be confident, compassionate citizens and leaders. To learn more about our secondary school programme, contact us to book a school tour.

(This blog was originally written in collaboration with Mr Anthony Hacking, former Senior Coordinator – Secondary (Pastoral) & Maths Teacher, OWIS Nanyang.)

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