Maintaining Effective Parent-Teen Communication at a Middle School Age

Many parents of middle school-age children know how quickly the shift in communication happens. One day, your child is talkative and friendly, and the next, your young teen is mumbling hello as they walk into their room and shut the door. Finding ways to bridge that gap and establish an open and lasting parent-teen relationship is quite important.

a sign saying "Keep Out" on a door
Patience and Active Listening

While it may be frustrating or painful at times for parents when a once chatty child turns into a silent teen that would rather communicate with friends than with them, it’s important to have patience. They still need a parent’s love, guidance, and support, even if they seem closed-off and distant. It’s important for parents to show curiosity in their teen’s interests, be a constant presence in their life, really listen when they talk and demonstrate understanding.

Two women talking
Communication Skills Young Teens Need

At middle school age, one is still half-way between childhood and adulthood, which makes it difficult to find one’s place in life and among their peers. Add to that the young teen’s experience of their body changing and their emotions being in a constant state of flux. This is a time when they need to develop empathy for others’ feelings, express their own emotions in a healthy manner, understand nonverbal cues, cooperate with others, and resolve peer issues.

A depiction of communication
Creating a Safe Space and Leading By Example

In many cases, young teens choose not to turn to their parents because they either feel misunderstood or worry about a parent’s reaction to what they have to say. That is why establishing open two-way communication at an early stage is extremely important. A teen must feel safe sharing their interests, feelings, or problems with their parents without fear of judgement or what they have to say being disregarded as unimportant. Parents can lead by example by letting their children see how they resolve conflicts and openly ask for help when it’s needed.