Teens and Communication Skills

Teen Talk - Teens and Rebuilding Trust
Posted at 8:00 AM, Nov 23, 2015
and last updated 2016-07-04 11:47:53-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- The Thanksgiving holiday is a good time to focus on communication, especially since family is close by.

Many parents see their teens staring at their phone or computer and with earbuds in, and that could cause concerns about their communication skills and how they are going to build relationships in the future.  How are they going to interact?  

Family therapist Jane Marks has some advice on increasing communication skills. 

She says for teens who struggle with communication, this presents an opportunity to put the phone away and become engaged in family interaction.  

Here's more of Marks' advice: 


1. Create an expectation that everyone will participate in holiday conversations.  No technology during meals.

2. Prior to the holiday experience practice initiating conversations.  Exude energy and a level of interest.  For those that struggle, by appearing to be engaged and full of energy, people will be drawn to you.  So even if you don’t feel it at least be able to look at persons that you come in contact with, eyeball to eyeball. 

3. Engaging strategies would include a firm handshake, sensational smiles, good eye contact and focused attention.  For anxious teenagers, this is a lifelong gift.

4. Another communication builder is to teach your teenager how to read facial expressions, body language and gesture cues.  If Aunt Sally is pacing or is talking too loud, you can teach your teen to say, “Aunt Sally, can I help you with something?”

5. Teach teens to notice the different perspectives and point of views of the family members.  You can take that another step by asking your teen, “why do you think grandpa reacted that way?” or “why do you think Aunt Susie got mad?”

6. Teach the concept of providing feedback.  If you observe your teen in a situation where a relative makes them sad or irritated you might provide feedback.

7. Provide opportunities for the holidays by having other activities that nurture conversation on the part of teens.  For example, provide them the opportunity to create experiences for those that are not in the kitchen.

8. Encourage exercise.  A pick up football game, zip line, soccer game, bikes and hikes.  All of these nurture warm feelings and reduce overall holiday stress.

9. Enforce good listening skills and you as a parent should model good listening skills for your teen.

10. Choose an activity that invites good, healthy conversation.  For example, recent current events.  This encourages an opportunity for your teen to share their opinions.  This also provides an opportunity for you to be critics together, to bond over a shared opinion. Should a difference of opinion arise, choosing the right words over social jargon makes a big difference in being heard.

11. Ahead of the holidays, practice asking questions.  Teach your teen to not assume but to ask questions in a way that encourages responses.

12. Finally, it is important to always focus on an attitude of dignity and respect for others.