Friday, May 19, 2006

Guidelines For Communicating With Your Teen. How do you get your monosyllabic teenager to talk to you? Yahoo Health! has a good article with some tips. Here are three of the tips:
  1. Ask questions that go beyond "yes" or "no" answers to prompt more developed conversation.
  2. Take advantage of time during car trips or standing in line at the supermarket to talk with your teen.
  3. Provide activities that offer opportunities to improve communication skills, such as attending or engaging in sporting and school events, playing games, and talking about current events.
Yes, they sound obvious, but we all need reminding. As dads, we need to know what our kids are doing and how they are feeling. This is particularly hard with boys, since many of them have already slipped on the mask of masculinity with its barrier to expressing their feelings. The article has an interesting, clinical sounding description of adolescent communication:

Adolescents essentially communicate in an adult manner, with increasing maturity throughout high school. Teens comprehend abstract language, such as idioms, figurative language, and metaphors. Explanations may become more figurative and less literal. Literacy and its relationship to cognition, linguistic competency, reading, writing, and listening is the primary language focus in this age group. Teens should be able to process texts and abstract meaning, relate word meanings and contexts, understand punctuation, and form complex syntactic structures.

However, communication is more than the use and understanding of words, it also includes how a teenager thinks of him/her self, their peers and figures of authority. They are seeking independence from family and trying to establish their own identity. They are now able to think in an abstract manor and become concerned with moral issues. All of this shapes the way a teen thinks and therefore communicates. Taking time to be with them and listen to them becomes increasingly important so that when they test the limits of their relationship with you, there is an established solid foundation that they will respect.

Good advice.


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