The Special Art of Talking to Teenagers

Read tips on how to communicate effectively with your teenager.

The following suggestions are from the book, "I'm not mad, I just hate you!" They were written expressly with teenagers in mind. The authors call upon moms to engage in responsible communication with their adolescent daughters by adhering to these eight points before they start talking:

  1. "Check Your Emotional Temperature." Emotions can get in the way of good communication.
  2. "If Necessary, Cool Down." Use whatever works to defuse your raging anger or emotions.
  3. "Think Through Your Goal." Determine what you want to accomplish by bringing up a topic.
  4. "Choose a Good Time." Timing in communication is everything. Consider when your teenager will be most receptive to what you have to say.
  5. "Talk Directly to Her." That means within the same breathing space.
  6. "Boost Your Chance of Being Heard." Employ all the polite, sincere charm you would use when speaking to a friend.
  7. "Be Aware of Your Body Language." Speaking softly but looking like you are ready to pounce on your teenager will subvert your message.
  8. "Keep an Argument from Becoming a Fight." Do not be drawn into a fight when what you want to have is a discussion.

Do not dismiss these eight points until you have tried them, nor give up in frustration. It will take time to master this technique. You might also find some other pointers in a useful book titled Keep Talking (Andrews McMeel Publishers, 1999) by family therapist Lynda Madison. You may want to try a few of Madison's suggestions in conjunction with the eight points above.

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