Talking With & Listening to Teens - Communication Strategies
What’s It All About?
Communication is the cornerstone of our relationships with teens—be they our children, students, neighbors, clients or patients. Creating safe, open and honest channels of communication help us share information and hear what a teen thinks or needs. Because adolescence is a time of developing personal identity, testing boundaries and increasing independence from family, communication can sometimes be argumentative and unsatisfying. Time is another factor—teens and adults are spending more time working, watching TV or using the computer, reducing the opportunity for conversations. Meal times are still one of the main opportunities for parents to talk and listen to their teens.
Why Does It Matter?
Communication Helps Teens:
- Feel cared for and loved.
- Believe they matter and are important to you.
- Feel safe and not alone with their worries.
- Learn how to tell what they feel and need.
- Learn how to talk openly.
Start talking and keep talking! Begin with easier topics like sports, the weather, media (music, videos, games, the Internet), school, friends. Then you can move on to more difficult topics. There are some good reasons to keep talking. For example, studies indicate that clear, strong messages from parents to teens about sex are critical, yet parents report it is one of the most difficult things for them to do. So practice with easier subjects. Before you tackle tough subjects, do your research. The Washington State Department of Health “What's Up?” series can be a start!
What Are The Details?
- Not having enough time together with their parents is a top concern among teens. Parents are more concerned about outside threats, such as drugs.
According to the 2002 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey:
- About 80% of 8th and 10th graders report that their parents ask if they’ve gotten their homework done.
- More than 8 out of 10 adolescents say their parents ask them where they will be going and with whom most or all of the time.
- Over 80% of 6th graders, but only about 60% of 12th graders say their parents tell them often or always that they are proud of them.
- About 15% of 8th graders, 20% of 10th graders and 30% of 12th graders report rarely or never eating dinner with their family.
Reprinted with the permission of the Department of Social and Health Services.
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