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Communication Tips

Helping Your Teens Talk to You

Take a few seconds to slow down, take a deep breath and respond mindfully. Below are additional tips to improve communication skills with your teen.

When you're speaking:

-Be brief. Keep it short.

-Use good tact and timing

-Notice your teens verbal and nonverbal responses

When you're listening:

-Pay attention to your facial expressions, posture, and tone

-Don't interrupt, just listen

-Try to not over interpret or add judgment

When you speak, keep it short (i.e., a sentence). Avoid lecturing. Your message will be diluted as it becomes longer and harder to attend to. One clear short message is best.

Make what you're saying easy to hear. Be tactful. Avoid things that make your child defensive like accusations or putdowns (e.g., you never listen, you always wait until the last minute).

Pay attention and be present. Put down phones and other devices. Make eye contact. Use an open posture and attend to what your facial expressions say. Are you showing impatience, rolling your eyes, invalidating her feelings, showing anger or coming across annoyed or overwhelmed? Is this a good time, if not take a break.

Don't interrupt, just listen. Even if you know what your teen is going to say or know it is a bad idea, listen respectfully. Listen to why it's important to them without making judgments with your facial expression, tone or comments because it shuts down communication.

We usually only hear part of what someone says so repeat what you heard to allow for clarification.

Be firm, consistent, and caring. Avoid patronizing your teen and never speak with contempt --take a break instead and talk to your teen at a later time.

Do you notice any patterns that you tend to get into with your teen? What is helpful or unhelpful about those communication patterns ? What would you like to do differently? Focus on changing or adding one thing at a time. Practice good communication as often as you can. Celebrate small changes and be proud of the effort you’re making!

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