Parenting Teenagers

How to get your teenager to listen to your advice

empowering your teenager Dec 29, 2022

Do you feel like your teenager never listens to your good advice?


If you answer yes to this question, please know that you are not alone in your frustration. In this post, I am going to offer three steps for increasing the likelihood of your teenager listening to your good advice. Before we get to these steps let’s set some context with a great story from the book Staying Connected to Your Teenager.


The author shares a story of one particular family he worked with. This family arrived for their first session and the children were not engaged at all so he asked the parents to leave the room so he could talk to the children privately.  After a few minutes he was still struggling to get the two siblings to open up so he took a chance and asked “Does your father ever lecture you?”  The two teens hesitated at first but eventually shared that their father lectured so much that they numbered them. When the parents came back into the room they shared a voice recording of the kids reenacting one of their fathers lectures. Interestingly, the father acknowledged that he lectures alot but said that it scares him when they misbehave and he doesn’t know what else to do.


My guess is that he is not alone in feeling this way so let me offer a three step approach for offering advice to your teenager.


Step one: Seek to understand


The goal in step one is to uncover your teenager’s current thoughts. For example: You are concerned with their level of effort in school. Rather than launching into a lecture about the importance of getting good grades, become curious. Ask a few open ended questions like...


  •  What do you like most about school?
  •  What do you like least about school?
  •  How important is it to you to get good grades?
  •  If you could change anything about going to high school, what would you change?  


Listen to them with an open mind. The objective is to develop a deeper understanding of what is going on for them while at the same time giving them a safe place to express themselves. Remember, you aren’t in a position to influence your teenager if the connection is damaged. Seeking to understand them is a great way to rebuild your connection.


Step two: Ask permission


Once your teenager feels that their opinions have been heard without being dismissed they will be much more open to your advice. Asking permission ensures that they are ready to listen. Here is what this could sound like:


“I really appreciate you sharing so openly. You have made some points that I have not considered before. Would it be okay if I shared some of my experiences?”


The vast majority of the time they will say yes and more importantly they will be much more likely to listen.  However if they say no, let it go for the moment. Honoring their no now builds trust in the relationship that will pay dividends at a later time. 


Step 3: Ask for feedback


After you have shared your wisdom, check in with your teenager to see what resonated with them.  Ask questions like…


  •  What have I shared that you have not thought of before?
  •  What do you disagree with?
  •  What do you agree with?


Try to avoid getting defensive if they disagree with some of your points. Circle back to step one and seek to understand their point of view.  Doing this will provide valuable insights for reframing your thoughts in a way that can actually influence your son or daughter. 


Your FEA (Family Enrichment Academy) hero challenge is to catch yourself before you launch into your next lecture and create a pause. Let go of any fear and ground yourself in a love based mindset.  Then …


  •  Seek to understand
  •  Ask permission
  •  Ask for feedback


Imagine what it is going to feel like to see your teenager combine your influence with their own unique personality as they grow into a thoughtful young adult. 


Feels great … doesn’t it. 


A change in perspective … changes everything.  


Jim White

Family Enrichment Coach





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