Why Does My Teen Say Everything is Alright When It's Clearly Not

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During teenage development, your child may feel distant and lack the energy to communicate with you. There are times when you want to connect with them, but all they say is, “I’m fine,” when they are clearly not. This is a common but serious problem between most parents and teens. If you’ve ever asked yourself “Why does my teen say everything is alright when it’s clearly not?”
This article will guide you through the do’s and don’ts of an effective parent-teen relationship, how to be open and honest, the reasons why miscommunications happen, and what you can do about it.

Parent-Teen Communication at a Glance

Communication between parents and children is a complex process that incorporates words, actions, nonverbal behaviours, and emotional messages. A good relationship is essential for a child’s growth. But, with the continuous development of technology and a fast-paced modern lifestyle, the communication gap between parents and children is widening.
Without proper and sufficient parental guidance, teens are more likely to engage in harmful activities such as experimenting with substance use, self-harm, unprotected sexual relations, and other risky behaviours. Some teens tend to lie and hide things from their parents, fearing that they might get scolded, neglected, or at worst, disowned. Children stop talking with their parents if they constantly nag or criticize them. In addition, parents who work long hours and return home weary might not be spending enough time with their children. Once any of these issues worsen, then reestablishing healthy communication is a considerable challenge.

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Why Parents Experience Trouble When Speaking with Teens

Most parents of  Generation Z children struggle with communicating and establishing a foundation of trust and love within their home. Here are some of the most common behaviours and attitudes of teens that might cause trouble:

  • Disrespect
    If your child is being disrespectful, then perhaps they are testing their independence. Growing up entails learning to be self-sufficient. This is a positive indication that your child is attempting to take on more responsibilities. They are learning to deal with conflicts and opposing viewpoints and trying to find a balance between their need for solitude and your desire to remain connected. You might receive an impolite response if your child thinks that you are being too curious or invading their personal space.
  • Rebelliousness
    If your child believes that you are attempting to regulate their life, they might resist. Today’s teenagers, unlike earlier generations, also have to deal with social media, which is a contributory factor for rebellious behaviour. Secret accounts, online bullying and harassment, and promiscuous flirting or sexting are all situations that might be difficult for parents to notice. Parents may feel out of their depth in caring for their children and monitoring rebellious behaviour after learning that their kid has misbehaved online.
  • Shyness
    Fear, worry, tension, shame, and other comparable emotions are frequently associated with shyness. Some timid kids express all of these feelings, while others express only a few. However, shy children must not be mistaken for introverted children. Shyness is often caused by a lack of self-confidence and being too self-conscious, both of which are difficult to overcome. Outgoing children are typically at ease speaking and sharing their views, and they frequently volunteer to be the center of attention. On the other hand, shy ones struggle with communicating since they find it too difficult.

Another reason why parents and children could be distant is due to personality differences. Personality refers to someone’s manner of thinking, feeling, and acting, which distinguishes them from others. It’s a synthesis of one’s inner and outer world perspectives. Various factors, such as genetics and environment, can have a long-term impact on one’s personality.
Furthermore, some teens struggle with personality disorders and other mental health issues. Personality disorders are long-term behavioural abnormalities that might begin as early as childhood or as late as adulthood. In addition, these disorders are stigmatizing, which means that sufferers often isolate themselves from others.
Most people with personality disorders are often socially nervous and aloof due to their feelings of inadequacy. They tend to withdraw from relationships, jobs, and even family. While seeking solitude is a natural reaction to busy environments, some use it as a coping technique. One type of personality disorder is Teenage Avoidant Personality Disorder. It is marked by a high sensitivity to criticism and negative feedback. People who have avoidant personality disorder frequently believe that others will reject them because they are afraid of being “not good enough.” As a result, they try to avoid social settings and interactions as much as possible. They have an intimate, small group of friends or confidants, and they are typically distrustful of others.
Furthermore, anxiety is also a reason why parents struggle to communicate with teens. Anxiety is caused by the inability to handle negative emotions. Given their continuous hormonal fluctuations, adolescents are prone to experiencing anxiety. This issue may be caused by mental health conditions such as panic, phobic, and stress disorders. It may also be due to external factors such as stressful workplace, school, personal relationships, finances, global issues, and substance use and addiction.
Another critical factor of having poor communication is substance abuse or addiction in teenagers. Chemicals in both legal and illicit medications have the potential to change how a teen’s mind and body perform. They can cause a euphoric feeling, reduce anxiety or help them deal with personal issues. Since most teenagers taking medicines are unaware of the consequences, they are unwittingly lured into consuming these substances. Aside from physical symptoms, drugs can cause noticeable behavioural changes. Any type of drug can impair a teen’s ability to pay attention, so they might struggle when communicating with peers or family members.

How to Have a More Open and Honest Parent-Teen Communication

One of the most challenging aspects of family relationships is communication between teenagers and their parents. Teenagers experiment and find unique identities, so parents can struggle to relate to them. Adolescents want to make their own decisions, which often leads to tension in their relationships. While they are an open book to their pals, whom they frequently communicate via texting and social media, they may remain silent when asked how their day went home.
A parent-child connection evolves over time, so you must be willing to adapt. However, don’t assume that they don’t need you as a sounding board. The most effective approach to help them is to let them know that they can always come to you if they are struggling with anything.
Communication is often cited as the cornerstone to a happy relationship. Be more engaged with them and be comfortable resolving issues as a team. Effective communication is needed if you feel disconnected from your teen (or vice versa), want to know what is happening with them, or want to improve your relationship.
Healthy discussion topics include talking about drugs and alcohol use, especially now that your child is starting to explore the world. Have meaningful exchanges of thoughts about these sorts of issues and research as much as possible.
Moreover, you and your child may find yourselves disagreeing more as they adjust to their growing independence. While some disagreements are healthy and necessary, excess conflict may make daily life difficult. Consider what is worth arguing for and what is not. Allow your child to speak out and be receptive to their point of view. You do not always have to agree with their viewpoint, but try to keep your opinions to yourself if you believe they will lead to an unnecessary confrontation.
Furthermore, make a note if they are abandoning the activities they used to love. If you see an abrupt change in your teen’s typical behaviour, talk about it and be supportive without sounding judgmental.

Effective Parenting Tips During Teen Years

Here are some effective parenting tips for dealing with your teen’s problems that may also help improve your communication and relationship with them.

  • Be approachable and willing to listen
    The
    Wright State University defines effective communication as being able to understand the information shared to you by a speaker. Showing your child that you are interested in what they are talking about creates a shared ground. It also makes your child feel that they can approach you anytime they need someone to talk to about their issues.
  • Spend bonding moments with your child
    Gain your teen’s trust by sharing memorable activities with them, such as having picnics, going to the cinema, trips to amusement parks, and even cooking simple dinners.
  • Be empathic and validate your child’s feelings
    Your teen may feel more intellectually and emotionally understood if you “feel for them.” Empathic listening is a more compassionate process of listening than just absorbing words; it is about paying attention to what they are trying to say and reading between the lines. In addition, handle your child’s feelings with care. For instance, don’t respond with “it will pass” after they open up about their recent breakup. They need someone who tries to understand what they are feeling.
  • Ask the right questions at the right time and place
    If you want to ask your child how they are doing with school, make sure to check their mood first. If you want to know if your child enjoyed a party they attended, see if they arrived feeling bubbly or tired. Or else, they may just shut the door and avoid talking to you at all.
  • Monitor your child’s activities, but do not be overly protective
    See if your child is spending their time in the tasks they are supposed to be doing. Also, check their online activity and if the apps they use are age-appropriate. However, respect their privacy by not going through their phones without consent.
  • Set reasonable rules and boundaries
    To establish trust within the family, make them understand their limitations by discussing the benefits and consequences. Also, make sure to set an example by following your own rules.

Takeaway

It is normal for your adolescent to break away from you at some point, no matter how good of a parent you are. Changes in your adolescent’s behaviour might be due to hormone problems or peer influences. However, be aware of the warning signals that could indicate a more severe issue, such as substance use disorders (SUDs). One of the most common SUD is teen marijuana addiction.
If the communication problem is rooted in drug or alcohol abuse, self-harm, eating disorder, anxiety, depression, or mental health concerns, Key Transitions can help you and your teen gets back on track. We can offer the best possible help by providing substance abuse treatment for youth and teen mental health services to cure their various addictions. For more information about the programs we offer, feel free to contact us today.

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