Most of the time when we talk about communication and teenagers, we are referring to ways parents can more effectively talk with their teen. But are there communication skills I should be teaching my teenager? How can I best prepare them to be effective communicators? And more importantly, how do I train my teen to share their opinion respectfully instead of rolling their eyes and slamming doors?:) Here are 10 vital communication skills for teenagers that we need teach our teens at home.
10 Vital Communication Skills for Teenagers
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Amazing communication skills can move mountains and calm storms. Making sure our teens can communicate well is a tool they will use for a lifetime. But if we fail to train our teenagers to communicate well and keep their emotions in check then we are leaving them open to conflict and broken relationships.
Expect your Teenager to Be Respectful in Tone and Words
Rarely does it work to just say everything that is on your mind. Even if you are right most people will stop listening and simply revert to self-protection mode.
Teach your teenager to use their words wisely. Don’t give in, instead walk away when they start yelling, threatening and whining. That is NOT behavior we want to reward or reinforce.
When I was old enough to realize the adults in my life weren’t always right, I would often correct them or make a show of pointing our their flaws! Boy, did I have to do a lot of apologizing at that stage, Ugh! Even if my parents agreed with my opinion, they would make me apologize to the adult as my tone had been horribly disrespectful.
When you are tempted to let outbursts from your teenager directed to you or others slide, think further down the road. Will the way they are communicating serve them in their adult job life or harm them?
Model the Art of Responding Promptly
Talk with your teenager about the importance of following up with people. If you said you would let someone know or give them a response, then do it. If a friend asks you to RSVP to an event try your best to do so. When your teenager is asked to join a team or committee but doesn’t want to, then they need to say so, not drag the person along.
Often people don’t respond because they are disorganized, or they hate to let people down. Work with your teen to respond quickly to requests if they tend to forget or lose the information. And help your teenager learn that it is better to be up front with people then to “hope they figure it out.”
Personally, I get “decision fatigue” and can put off making a decision. So I try to remember the last time others put me in the position of wondering their decision and often that will motivate me to respond more promptly!
Train Teenagers to be Assertive in Communication
One of the best gifts you can give your kid is to help them learn how to be assertive.
We all have a communication style. So first we need to learn what good communication – being assertive- looks like. And then we need to figure out which end of the communication spectrum we tend to lean toward, so we can counter balance our natural tendency!
If your teenager teens to be more outspoken, they may struggle with being aggressive at times with their words or actions. Your teenager may need to choose their words more carefully and to wait a period of time before responding to a text that made them very angry. This moves their natural style (aggressive) closer to the healthier form of assertive communication:)
Teach Your Teenager to Use “I Statements”
“I Statements” are simply statements that start off with the word “I”. They are a great way to stay on task with being assertive, not veering off toward aggressive or passive style of communication.
When we begin a conversation or request with the word “I” we keep it more specific and less threatening to our listener. If I tell my teenager that “I felt disrespected when I came home and found all the trash and dishes you and your friends left in the living room,” I am keeping the focus on how I was affected by their actions.
My teenager is more likely to hear my words than if I said to them,”You and your friends are complete slobs and NEVER clean up after yourselves.”
Help your teenager rephrase what they say and try to use “I Statements” instead of starting off with the word YOU!
Teach Teenagers How to Talk on the Phone
The art of talking on the phone and in person is becoming a lost art. Make sure your teenager knows how to call and talk on the phone. That may seem silly if you grew up without cell phones. But I am always a little shocked at how teenagers will go to great lengths to NOT make an actual phone call.
Start small. I have several friends who make their teenagers call to make an appointment, such as a doctor appointment. This is great practice at being courteous and professional on something that is not too serious if they mess up.
Help Teenagers Develop Solutions
When I was a flight attendant, I was fresh in my twenties, and I remember a powerful lesson one pilot taught me. Offer a solution when you you bring up a problem! If I called up to the cockpit with a problem, offer 2 solutions to the problem that from my unique perspective in the cabin, would be helpful.
Especially at home, when you and your teen are having a disagreement, teens don’t get to simply shoot down your solution. If they don’t like that you are giving them a strict bedtime since they can’t get up in the morning then they better develop a helpful idea!
Turn the table on your teenager and expect them to help solve the problem. This will change the argument AND make your teenager a much more effective communicator.
Learn How to Listen for Feelings
When someone starts accusing you or blaming you for something it is natural to jump in to defend yourself. Even as an adult, most of us are quick to defend and slow to listen.
Teach your teenager how to begin listening for other’s feelings by repeating their feelings to them. In the middle of a disagreement, try to slow down and repeat what you hear them saying. For example, ” I hear you saying that you feel disappointed that I wouldn’t let you go to that event with your friends.”
Allowing another person to feel heard and understood is powerful.
Help Your Teenager Admit When They are Wrong
Not my favorite thing to do, just saying! But if we want to our teenagers to admit then they are wrong then we are going to need to go first. So take the first step. If you blow it then let your teen know it.
If your teenager was wrong or made a big mistake, help them own up to it. Don’t throw their failure in their face, but also don’t allow your teen to act like it was someone else’s fault. Make sure your teenager owns up to their part of the mistake, and then tell them how mature you think that makes them!
Teach Teens to be Problem Focused in Conflict
Keep the focus on the problem and not on attacking one another. Disagreements can get real personal, real fast! But if we focus on the problem at hand then we are less likely to make it personal.
We are definitely losing the art of the disagreement. Even as being “open-minded” is encouraged everywhere, actually learning to disagree is being taught less. Show your teenagers how its possible to disagree with someone while still maintaining the relationship.
Remember and Use a Person’s Name
Isn’t that the best thing when you start a new job or a new church and someone comes up to you a few weeks later and remembers your name?
Now I am the worst at names. I’ve gotten better. But I do realize that it is hard. I make much more of an effort now because I realize how effective it is as a communication tool. People LOVE to hear their name!
Encourage your teenager to learn their teacher’s and coaches’ names (yes, teens can actual go a whole year and never learn their name!). When you all our out and about and see friends and acquaintances, call them by name whenever you can.
Show your teenager how a simple thing like remembering a person’s name can set them apart from the crowd.
This GREAT tips comes from the classic book, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This book has such simple, but actionable tips. If your teen struggles with making friends and connections, I highly recommend you all read (or listen) to this book together. Carnegie gives tons of personal stories that makes for a enjoyable and memorable read!
10 Vital Communication Skills for Teenagers
With these 10 communication skills, your teenagers will be ready to have healthier relationships with family. They will also be equipped to resolve conflict and look for solutions whether they are at school or in the community!
Which communication skill is toughest for you to master and teach to your teens?