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Helping Teens With Communication

by Kathryn Hatter

While communication between younger children and parents usually goes smoothly, once kids hit adolescence, complications often arise. A teenager might need some coaching from parents to help him communicate effectively with others. By helping a teenager communicate, you help him develop important skills that will encourage him to identify feelings and thoughts.

Identifying Purpose

Before teenagers can effectively communicate, identify the purpose of the message, advises the Kids Health website. Help a teen understand that it’s unlikely that a conversation will proceed accordingly without a firm plan or idea about its purpose. For example, if a teenager wants to talk about extending a curfew on a specific night, the teen should think about the reasons for the request and make a plan for presenting it to a parent.

Direct Communication

After devising a purpose and plan for communication, help him learn how to communicate clearly and directly. Suggest that a teenager choose a time for communication when it’s possible to devote time and attention to speaking. Approaching someone first and asking, “Is this a good time to talk?” might help a teenager approach someone to have a conversation. Once a teen has the floor, the teen should proceed with direct communication to broach a subject.

Accepting Responsibility

An approach that accepts responsibility for thoughts and feelings is generally an effective way to communicate with others, according to the Austin Community College website. Help your teenager understand that making “I statements” effectively accepts responsibility for feelings instead of casting blame onto others. For example, if a teenager says, “I feel so frustrated when I have an early curfew on special nights when other kids get to stay out later” this places responsibility for the feelings on the teenager without involving blame.

Using Empathy

Encourage your teenager to use empathy when communicating with others, advises the WebMD website. The ability to consider how other people feel in specific circumstances makes communication more respectful and effective. Once a teen employs empathy, it might also help avoid negative criticism or defensiveness in a conversation, which generally makes it difficult to communicate effectively and positively.

Practice

Make yourself available to speak with and listen to your teenager, suggests extension specialist Jennifer Kerpelman, with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Connect daily, if possible, to listen to your teenager’s concerns and provide supportive feedback. With ongoing practice, a teenager will become more adept at communicating with others.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

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