Barb Steinberg featured an excellent piece about communicating with your teen and while it's focused towards girls these tips apply to communication across the board! Barb writes:
"Ever find it difficult to communicate with a tween or teen? Well, you are not alone. Here are a few of my favorite communication tips:
- Keep It Short: Try for 10 words or less or better yet, how about just, one? Instead of going off about how she is too messy and you are sick of reminding her to pick up her stuff and clean up her room, etc. Just say, “Grace, backpack, please.” Save your energy. Warning: you may have to say “backpack” four times. :)
- Instead of Telling, Ask: Wrong way: You need to be home more. You can’t go to Ella’s house. Better way: We miss you. We’d love for you to bring Ella here and hang out. What can we do to make our house a place you want to bring your friends?
- Let her be the expert: Let’s say you feel disconnected from her. Say: I’ve never been a parent to a 15 year-old girl before. I need your advice. What can we do to fight less and get along more?
- When’s she upset: Ask: What do you need from me right now? How can I support you? Ideas: does she want to be left alone, to be listened to (no advice), a hug, a foot rub, a bubble bath, a cup of hot tea, etc.
- Say something nice: Many teens think their parents think negatively about them (even if you don’t). Point it out when you see her doing something you want more of… if you catch her smiling, laughing at a joke, putting her dishes away, studying for her test, helping her sibling or agreeing with you. What we put our attention on, grows!"
Did you also know that the level of empathy you bring into a conversation determines how successful the conversation will be and also overall success in general? And as there are different purposes for communicating there are different levels of empathy:
1. The type of empathy where we directly feel what others feel.
2. The type of empathy where you imagine yourself in others' shoes.
3. The type of empathy where you imagine the world, or a situation, from someone else's point of view rather than your own.
4. The type of empathy that researchers sometimes call "mind reading." It involves being good at reading others' emotions and body language.
See how the level of empathy plays out in this comic about the ways we communicate to someone about anxiety!
Healthy Communicating, Chaps!