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Communication Tips for Teen Attitudes

Communication Tips for Teen Attitudes – By Dr. Jennifer Salerno – Eye rolls, slammed doors, sarcasm, talking back—if you’re a parent of a teen I’m sure you can unfortunately relate.

In my last post, I explained the science behind the adolescent brain and the reasons for the attitude. If you missed it, be sure to check it out. When you understand how your teen is wired, you are well positioned to apply communication techniques used by clinicians and counselors with your own teen. With just a few simple phrases and wording changes you can actually elicit full sentences from the sullenest teens. Here are some tried-and-tested techniques that I offer in more detail in my new book, Teen Speak.


Communication Tips for Teen Attitudes

Tip #1 – Build Mutual Respect
Ask permission – “Can I share something with you?”
Show empathy – “I know you’ve had a hard day at school today and I understand how frustrated you may feel.”

Tip #2 – Talk With Your Teen, Not At Your Teen
Instead of talking at your teen – “Get over it—this should not be making you feel sad or stressed out. It’s no big deal.”
Talk with your teen – “It’s hard to deal with everything you have going on right now. What do you need in order to feel less stressed?”

Tip #3 – Foster Self-Worth and Self-Esteem
Teens live up or down to our expectations. Teens whose strengths are recognized will
be motivated to develop those strengths. “You are a caring friend and want to work things out with Jessie.” Teens who are always told something is wrong with them will wilt, and are more likely to use ubstances, report depression and anxiety, and have sex at an early age.
Empower your teen to take care of and value themselves – “Some people give up when it gets hard, but you are able to use tough times to grow stronger.”

Tip #4 – Listen
Your role is to facilitate conversations not
lead them.
Use statements – “Tell me about your day” versus “How was your day?”
Summarize what you heard and use open-ended questions to draw out their motivations – “That sounds like a messy situation. What would your reasons be for waiting to have sex?”

Tip #5 – Slow the Impulsiveness
Ask about the behavior then LISTEN – “Tell me what you think about sex.”
Ask about their reasons, LISTEN to the reasons, THEN respond: “What are your biggest reasons for waiting?” OR “What are your reasons to use protection every time you have sex?”
End with a key question – “What do you need to do in order to make this happen?”

Dr. Jennifer Salerno is an Oakland County mom, nurse practitioner, an adolescent health expert, author of Teen Speak and founder of Possibilities for Change.

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