Communicating With Your Child Or Teen
Noted below are ten suggestions for helping you to improve your communication with your child or teenager.
- Be open to communication. Set up the time and place that communication can take place. Trying to talk about serious issues on the ride to school isn’t enough time. Having a discussion right after a parent gets home from work or a youth from school may not be the best of circumstances. Think about when to talk, where to talk, what to talk about, and who should be involved.
- Don’t expect the other party to be able to read your mind. You must say what you’re feeling. Your feelings are important and you should share them. Let the other person know you have something to say, then say it and be prepared to talk about it.
- Define what is up for negotiation. Teens know that parents must have some rules. If parents are firm that there will be no part-time job until the age of 17 then parents should say so. Don’t say “We’ll see…”if there is no chance.
- Be specific! Instead of saying, “You need to do better in school!”, say “You need to earn a C+ average.” Instead of saying, “I want more freedom,” say “I would like my curfew to be an hour later.”
- Be willing to compromise. Teens need to know they have to be willing to compromise as well. You can’t just ask your parents for everything you want and expect to get it without giving something as well. Your parents may set limits on how often you can go out on the weekend because they want you to spend more time with the family. If you want to go to a party on a Saturday night would you be willing to spend Sunday with your family?
- Brainstorm ideas together. Remember the key to brainstorming is to not instantly reject an idea. Everything gets looked at for its pro’s and con’s.
- Conflict is inevitable. It’s normal to fight sometimes. Don’t bear grudges. It’s better to get it out as it happens. It’s not fair to bring up an incident from eight months ago only when you got really angry today. Try to avoid blaming and accusatory language. It doesn’t always have to be someone’s fault.
- Do fun things together. Try to appreciate what the other person is interested in. Or do something that’s completely new to both of you. Take vacations. Get outside. Spend time separate from the rest of the family. Enjoy your time together.
- Recognize when a situation needs professional assistance. The key to family counseling is that it involves the entire family. If the family can participate in developing criteria for family counseling, the odds are better that it will work. How often should the family go? Who should go? Who should we see? Does anyone want individual time with the counselor? Parents should go to counseling even if a teen won’t. It shows that the parent is serious about getting help and making things better. Parents can benefit from counseling as well.
- Reinforce good communication by being a good role model. Thank people for telling you how they feel. Let them know you appreciate it when they come to you with issues. Tell them you enjoy hearing about their day when good things happen so that when bad things happen they can come to you as well.
SOURCE: The Newsletter of the National Runaway Switchboard