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Tips on Communicating with Adolescents and Teens

Busy, overloaded days often make us unaware that family communication is suffering. Congratulations to those parents who take notice and want to improve the situation. However maybe it is more the “what” than the “how” that’s the problem.
For example, if you ask parents to list what they talk with their school aged children or adolescents on a given day, most conversations are about school performance, reminders of chores or things to do, curfews, the parent’s plans for the child’s future, and plans for family events. Very little if any time is spent listening to the child’s interests, feelings, ideas or plans, and little time is spent discussing feelings or praising children.
The biggest hurdle to good communication with children who are on the way to adolescence is our obsession to instruct and inform them, instead of talking and listening to them. Yes, we do have important things to tell them that they need to hear, but this “taking care of business mode” must be balanced with communication that says, “What you think and feel and enjoy are important to me because I love you and the person you are becoming.” We have to remember that kids really don’t care what you know (even if you know a lot) unless they know you care.
Good communication with kids this age is not easy, but it’s worth the effort. It must include meaningful praise; it must include sharing our feelings and talking about what we stand for and believe in, and it must include sincere and genuine listening.

To improve or to get your good family communication back on track, you may want to read the pamphlet, “Tips on Communicating with Adolescents and Teens.” It includes tips on talking, listening, how to use “door openers” to conversation, how to teach values through talks, how to individualize communication, how to use descriptive praise, and how to prevent overreaction and arguments.

Evelyn Petersen’s nationally syndicated parenting column is carried in over 200 newspapers twice each week. As a family/parenting consultant, early childhood educator, Head Start consultant, and host of a series of parent training audio and video tapes, Ms. Petersen employs an approach of providing hands-on, nuts and bolts advice to parents across the country.Evelyn Petersen’s nationally syndicated parenting column is carried in over 200 newspapers twice each week. As a family/parenting consultant, early childhood educator, Head Start consultant, and host of a series of parent training audio and video tapes, Ms. Petersen employs an approach of providing hands-on, nuts and bolts advice to parents across the country. You can read more from Evelyn at her web site: www.askevelyn.com

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