Newborn, Senior, and Family
Portrait Photographer
in New Market, Maryland

Newborn, Senior, and Family Portrait Photographer in New Market, Maryland

Tips for Communicating with Maryland Teens


Navigating the parent-teenager relationship and communication can be complicated. No longer children, but not yet adults, the teen years can be anything but straightforward. As they strive for independence and identity, effective communication becomes all the more important for fostering understanding and maintaining strong familial bonds. As a senior portrait photographer in New Market, Maryland, I have the chance to regularly work with teenagers and their parents. I have an affection for all of my clients, and it is always a joy to see healthy parent-teen relationships. In this blog post, I will give my best tips for communicating with teens in a way that fosters mutual respect, trust, and open dialogue.

Strategies for Healthy Teen Communication

Before diving into communication strategies, I want to start by pointing out the developmental milestones and challenges faced by teenagers. Adolescence marks a period of rapid physical, emotional, and cognitive changes. These things can lead to heightened sensitivity, identity exploration, and a pursuit of autonomy. Recognizing these developmental changes can help give you an increased sense of empathy as you approach communicating with your teen.

Maryland teen girl seated in a white egg chair in a Frederick garden.

Cultivate Empathy

Empathy is quite possibly the most important ingredient in effective communication. Do your best to truly understand your teen’s perspective by actively listening without judgment. Empathetic listening involves giving your full attention, acknowledging their emotions, and validating their experiences. By demonstrating empathy, parents create a safe space where teens feel heard and valued, which helps them to trust you and want to let you into their lives more rather than push you away. The more they share with you in a real way, the more you will trust them as well, and that mutual trust can result in a positive spiral and a healthy relationship.

Work Toward Open Dialogue

As you foster that environment of empathy and trust, encourage regular and open communication by creating opportunities that not only feel safe but are also inviting. Whether it’s during family meals, shopping or coffee dates, or attending a sporting event together, promote bonding times with your teen and create opportunities for casual and safe conversation. Make sure you’re approachable and don’t react with shock or disapproval if they share something vulnerable with you. Allow your teen to express their thoughts, concerns, and aspirations without fear of criticism. Depending on your particular teen, you and he or she may enjoy doing something like a prompt journal together, like this one.

Practice Active Listening

Effective communication is a two-way street, requiring active participation from both parties. Practice active listening by not interrupting them, repeating back to them what you heard them say, and asking clarifying questions. Resist jumping in right away with your viewpoint, but instead, try to understand the underlying feelings and motivations behind what they’re saying. Through active listening, you can demonstrate to your teen that you empathize with them and that their words matter to you.

Maryland teen girls laughing together in Downtown Frederick.

Show Respect

It is important to recognize and honor the fact that your teenager is no longer a child, and should not be treated like one. The more we show respect to other people, the more they will respect us. The same is true for teenagers. As you step out and demonstrate trust in and respect for your teenager, more than likely, he or she will rise to the occasion and strive to be worthy of that trust and respect. On the other hand, if you are frequently nagging, micromanaging, and prying, your teenager will probably shut down and become distant. Sometimes the parent has to start the upward spiral by treating their teen according to who they are becoming rather than who they are right now. Being treated with respect is a powerful motivator for behaving in a way that is deserving of respect.

Be Mindful of Body Language

So much of communication is expressed in nonverbal cues and body language. Pay attention to your tone of voice, facial expressions, and gestures. Be intentional to convey warmth, empathy, and openness. Maintain eye contact, showing that you are being attentive to your teen’s communication. Show them that you are interested in what they have to say.

Linganore High School teen boy sitting on bleachers, holding a football.

Set Realistic Expectations

Keep in mind that effective communication with your teenager will be an ongoing process, requiring patience, flexibility, and understanding. Set realistic expectations regarding the frequency and quality of communication, and know that your teen may withdraw or express himself or herself differently at times. Avoid imposing rigid standards or expecting immediate solutions, instead, focus on building trust and nurturing your relationship with your teen over time.

Embrace Conflict Resolution

Conflict is inevitable in any relationship, but it doesn’t have to be detrimental. Try to use conflict as an opportunity for growth and understanding, rather than a barrier to communication. Encourage healthy expression of emotions and opinions by teaching constructive conflict resolution strategies such as active listening, compromise, and empathy. Approach conflicts with a collaborative mindset, seeking mutually beneficial solutions.

Investing in healthy communication and a strong relationship with your teen is hard work, but so well worth the effort! Adolescents may be confusing at times, but they can become some of your very best friends as you pursue a relationship with them. Teenagers quickly turn into young adults, so take the time to invest now so you have a solid relational foundation when they leave the nest. 

And speaking of leaving the nest, consider capturing this time with a senior portrait photo session. This is such a unique and special time in the life of your child, and just like newborn portrait sessions, senior sessions are a wonderful way to celebrate and capture photos of your teen during one of the most significant transition periods of their life. If you are interested, feel free to contact me here, and I am happy to answer any questions you might have and get you on the schedule! We’ll even make it fun for teens who aren’t really into photos!

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