How To Give Teens Advice They’ll Actually Follow | Keya Murthy, MS, C.Ht.


The truth is, no one likes being told what to do. One of my teachers used to say “don’t advise unless someone asks you to”. To enjoy and thrive in any relationship, unless you’re a project manager or a parent, do you really need to tell others what to do?

Children are surely the project of their parents and need to be told to them, yet they sometimes hate to listen. So how do you give advice to a teenager in a way that will compel them to listen to you?

Before we go any further, the most important thing to note is that you are the eldest in the equation and must maintain your dignity and sanity at all times. Good luck!

What does it mean to hook up with a teenager?

The first thing to remember is to know the teenager you are talking to. Just knowing someone’s name and your relationship to them is not enough.

You need to understand the teenager you are working with. When you love someone so much, you can sometimes get desperate and do things that you think are for the best, but in fact either push them away physically or emotionally — and even hurt them.

You have to know the person well. You have to get what they feel and what they need. If they ask for space, give it to them. If they ask for help, give it to them.

I once heard my Kumu Hula (Hula teacher) say that when you have a child, your life stops and your child’s life begins. In Western culture, this may seem like going too far with your parenting role, but it’s not.

RELATED: 3 expert tips for creating a healthy, lifelong relationship with your child

Demonstrate authority without being bossy.

It’s a fine line and you have to find the balance between authority and authoritarianism. Children raised by authoritarian parents constantly drown in self-doubt. If you just respect yourself and keep your cool, your teen will always look forward to spending time with you. When you cross their minds, they are happy that you are in their life.

You must meet them where they are.

When you talk to a teenager about your perspective, they may feel small, unintelligent, and disrespectful.

Instead of telling them what to do, ask them what they want to do. Also, instead of saying “do it!” say “Let’s do it!” and get involved.

Talk to your teen when he’s happy and present, rather than approaching him when you have time. Make time for them each day. Adapting to their schedule and adapting to your needs makes them more open to listening and following up.

You have two ears and one mouth, so listen more than talk when you’re with your teen. If they choose to verify, they can and will do so in less than three seconds. They might be physically present, but not emotionally.

Talking to a teenager after he’s gone is futile. It is a waste of breath, time, emotion and energy.

RELATED: 10 non-negotiable rules for raising a teenager without ruining your relationship with him

How can you communicate with your teen and feel heard?

There is a clear difference between conversation, communication and connection. A connection is about getting them to listen to you and accept your suggestions.

It can be as dry as discussing politics, religion, or even the weather. A lot of noise gets lost in the wind.

When you speak you have to exhale, and when you exhale you expend your life force through your breath.

If you had a healthy relationship with your child during his preteen years, it will pay dividends during his teenage years. It won’t be as easy as it used to be, but it’s still better than if you weren’t there for your child when they were growing up.

Still, all is not lost if you were busy working and didn’t have as much time as you wanted for your children when they were in elementary school. It’s never too late!

RELATED: 6 tips from parenting experts wish you would stop ignoring your teen

When and how to give advice to a teenager?

Start making time for your teenager. Take time off from work, put aside all social obligations and turn off the electronics. Take your child out for lunch or a late afternoon tea. Do it now and do it often.

Teenagers don’t like surprises, no matter how pleasant. They always have plans even if it’s all in their head.

When a teenager is well-rested and well-nourished, they’re more likely to be open to everything you have to say.

Keep your doors open so your teen can come in at any time and ask you anything. Don’t have taboo subjects. Your teen will find answers on their own if they don’t get them from you. Would you rather they hear it from you or another teenager outside, or even worse, another adult stranger?

RELATED: What Causes Obsessive Behavior in Teenage Relationships?

Stay humble and don’t pretend to know everything!

When your teen asks you something and you don’t know what to say, “let me answer you” is the last thing you should say. Usually, if you’re not the one with the answer, they’ll find it somewhere else. Instead, say “let’s find out together.”

When you let them know that you don’t have all the answers but are willing to seek them out, you show your humility and your desire to learn. You also let them know that you are part of their team and are ready to work with them through everything.

Sometimes, even if you have the answer, say “that’s what I know, but let’s find out what else is out there.” I would like to learn too.

They are just pointers. You are a loving, kind, and caring person, so take ownership of the time you spend with your teen. They should never feel like you’re giving them advice unless they ask. Even when they ask, say a few things and together you can come up with common ideas to fill in the gaps.

Finally, stories always help. Tell them how it was for you when you were growing up. It is the greatest bonding activity between an adult and a teenager.

Teens are growing adults, and like most adults, teens certainly don’t like being told what to do or think. So instead of forcing advice on them, ask them what they would like to hear or do.

Make your conversation more about listening than telling. Instead of preaching, let it be about finding solutions and solving problems.

RELATED: 8 ways to slow down and connect with your kids at home

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Keya Murthy, MS, works as a clinical hypnotherapist, spiritual life coach, and energy medicine practitioner at the Ventura Healing Center.

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