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How To Enhance Parent-Teen Connection Through Nonviolent Communication

Have you encountered moments where after a long day at school, your child returned home, and you asked, “How was school today?”
Your child just tossed the backpack aside, and muttered, “Okay, I guess.” 

You tried to ask more questions, trying to dig deeper, but each attempt seemed to push your child further into their shell. Eventually, they brushed off whatever inquiries with a simple “I don’t want to talk about it.” and retreat to their room.

These moments, though frustrating, also come with a mixture of helplessness and longing to truly understand their world. 

I was that parent and I was feeling exasperated but it also inspired me to seek new ways to bridge the gaps, to listen more attentively, and to create an environment where genuine conversations can thrive. 

As parents, we always thought that we had a very good relationship with our children as we always engage in daily conversations and activities together until something happens and that’s when we realized there’s a gap when the child encounters a situation requiring deeper emotional connection or when the child faces a significant challenge. 

What causes these gaps? Well, there are several reasons.

Reason #1

When conversations focus more on everyday issues than on more profound emotions or worries. The connection will remain superficial. Unconsciously or unintentionally, we may not have actively explored the child’s thoughts, fears, or aspirations.

Reason #2

Busyness. These happened on both sides: parent and child. Parents are busy with work while the child is busy with studies. This lack of open communication can create a gap that grows over time.

Reason #3

As much as we thought we were being present, we might not have been fully engaged or attentive to our child’s evolving interests and needs. This gap can lead to the child feeling that their experiences aren’t being acknowledged.

Reason #4

Children’s hobbies, worries, and confidantes can change as they get older and enter the teenage years. Parents do not realise that as their children grow older, they yearn for independence. But parents still think that they are their children’s primary source of guidance and support.

Different triggers, such as disagreements, behavioural changes, emotional outbursts, or outside events, can cause people to become aware of these gaps. Then we realise that our knowledge of our child’s world isn’t as complete as we thought it was.

Now that we know the above reasons, what can we do to mend these gaps?

Very commonly, experts will advise open and nonjudgmental communication, active listening, and a willingness to adapt. You may have said “I tried but it didn’t work.

Let me now share with you one useful tool that I discovered during my recent podcast talk with my guest and which adds fresh perspective to this subject: Nonviolent Communication (NVC). Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a technique that really spoke to me. 

Shruti, my guest, provided her knowledge of how NVC’s guiding principles may bridge those gaps and foster empathy and understanding even in the most trying circumstances. The more I learned about NVC, the more I realised how much it may affect not only parent-teen interactions but also interpersonal dynamics in general.

In our conversation, she discussed how NVC encourages us to approach conversations with a focus on 

  • Observations

  • Feelings

  • Needs

  • Requests 

This straightforward yet insightful concept enables me to shift from reactive communication (reacting to a situation) to proactive understanding (attempting to understand). I found that as I applied these ideas to my own experiences, my conversations with my children got richer and more in depth.

I was better able to comprehend the emotions underlying their words, there was space for connection and advancement. NVC provided me with a blueprint for creating the respect and cooperation from the children, whether it was for resolving disputes or learning about their objectives.

One instance that stands out was an evening when my teenager shared their frustration about school. Instead of offering him solutions or dismissing his concerns, I followed the NVC model: 

  • observed his body language, 
  • listened to his feelings
  • acknowledged his need for support, and 
  • gently made a request for more information. 

As a result, we had a conversation that turned his annoyance into a cooperative effort to solve the problem, and that brought us closer than I could have ever imagined.

I have to say it wasn’t easy in the beginning because we are used to giving our children instructions before they even requested or sometimes didn’t even request for it. But as long as we keep NVC in mind and follow the framework of observation, feelings, needs and requests, things work out way better than you can imagine. 

Let me share with you another incident with my daughter. She has emotions like rollercoasters and I always feel like walking through a minefield. But with NVC’s toolkit in hand, I began by observing her body language, mirroring her feelings and acknowledging her needs when she raised her concern about going out with her friends. In this particularly tense discussion, I expressed my concern for her safety while also understanding her desire for more freedom. The result? For the first time, we were able to agree on something and have a mutual understanding.


Nonviolent Communication isn’t just another buzzword or fancy concept. It’s the anchor that grounds our relationships in authenticity and understanding. 

From those seemingly impenetrable teenage walls to the heart-to-heart talks that bridge the gap, NVC is the bridge. But I would like to remind you that embracing NVC isn’t about perfecting parenting; it’s about progress and choosing to understand over assumption, and empathy over frustration. 

So, let’s start applying the NVC principles and replace misunderstandings with genuine connections, and then set out on a quest to forge bonds that last even during adolescent storms. Keep in mind that the tiny changes we make today could result in the significant improvements we expect to see tomorrow.

PS: Watch on YouTube or listen to the podcast on Spotify, Google, Apple Podcast or Amazon

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