How to communicate with your teen

February 15, 2010 4:59:26 PM PST
Five simple ways to open the lines of communication.

1. Kick up the speed of your conversation:

  • Keep it short and simple

  • Create a conversation; don't deliver a lecture

  • Make most of your interaction positive; don't focus on the negative.

  • Take advantage of time alone: talk in the car; while waiting for an appointment; during a television show.
2. Speak their language:
  • Accept that text messaging, online chat, and cell phones are the way they "talk".

  • Recognize that for teens, human interaction isn't necessary to their everyday means of communication.

  • Learn to text! Your teen will respond to a text even if it's a situation where he may not answer your phone call.

  • It's important to not feel offended when they are texting while you are talking.

  • Set expectations in regards to text. For example: No texting during dinner.
3. Learn who your 'online teen' is:
  • Know what social networking sites your teen is a part of and discuss it with him. Make your teen aware that you will be checking these sites and reviewing his computer usage also. Make it an open and direct conversation.

  • Pay attention to new trends and Web sites in use by teens. Visit these sites, and learn what they are about. Join the sites and create your own page!

  • Ask to see your teen's page.

  • Don't be afraid to ask your teen: remember this is how your teen is represented to the rest of the world. For example: Employers are checking myspace pages of potential employees to learn more about their life style before hiring them
4. Stay Calm and Be Patient
  • Let your teen speak at his own pace.

  • Recognize a teen will not tell you everything, but he wants to talk stop what you are doing and make time for the conversation.

  • Watch your body language. Teen are masters in deciding that you don't really want to listen, that you are angry, or that you are in a hurry. Keep eye contact and encourage them to keep talking with open ended questions.
5. Give advice when necessary; don't become Dr. Abby
  • Give your teen an opportunity to become a problem solver. Keep your 'fix it' mentality to a minimum.

  • Give your teen permission to make mistakes; perfection is not the goal.

  • Be cautious of 'snooping' or becoming a detective with your teen in order to get the answers. If you want to know ask!

  • Always tell your teen how much you love them, no matter what the circumstances.
For more information:

Didi Zahariades, MA is currently a psychotherapist, speaker, executive coach, writer, and life coach. Specializing in the development and management of people allowed her to open her own private practice, Coach to Win.

Over the last six years, Didi has received her Masters in Counseling Psychology at Lewis & Clark College; became a Counselor at Kaiser Permanente; and served as a Motivational Speaker to high school audiences of 500 -1200 students as part of the Monster Making it Count Corporation. Her prosperous practice focuses on individual's age 14 to 68 as well as actively coaching executives nationwide.

Didi has gained national attention as a regularly featured expert on Better TV, a syndicated television program from the family of Better Homes & Gardens, airing in over 50 cities throughout the U.S. Didi has provided televised coaching on various subjects such as: Mistakes Women make in the Workplace, How to Feel Sexy this Summer, Tips to Successfully Decrease Stress During the Holidays, What You Need to Know before You Get Married, How to Lose Weight from the Inside Out, and How to Stand-out in a Competitive Job Market.

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As a graduate from The University of Iowa, a diverse background allowed Didi to advance in management and after an extensive business career, she eventually settled in Portland, Oregon. By age 30, Didi had followed a rapid career path and was Vice President for a publicly held technical staffing firm.

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