FOUR Fs to TEENSPEAK
All good counselors and therapists learn early on, possibly the most valuable skill they can develop, is to meet their clients where they are. Active listening skills are necessary in order to effectively communicate with everybody, but none more so, than with teenagers.
Ask anybody who deals with teens, or for that matter, anybody who ever WAS one, and they will quickly confirm; teenagers live in a world all their own. Teens are leaving one world and preparing to enter another. They are attempting to span the distance between childhood and adulthood. And it is highly unlikely they trust anyone other than one of their own.
FOUR F’s to TEENSPEAK:
Framework: Patience is paramount! Adults and teenagers almost always see the world very differently. A new pimple can be as major of a deal to a teenager as scheduling surgery is for an adult. And in order to communicate effectively, we have to find a common ground.
What we don’t have to do, interestingly enough, is agree. It really is perfectly okay to maintain different points of view. We must, however, learn to accept these differences. In effective communication all participants remain respectful and appreciative of and see the value in other people’s feelings. This holds true more so with teenagers, who may not know how to express it, but who desperately need to have their conflicting and changing feelings validated.
Fairness: Teens rarely believe adults are fair. This premise feeds and fuels mistrust. And mistrust causes breakdowns in communication. Expectations and instructions need to be extremely specific, clear and direct.
When talking with your teenager, you can rest assured, “I want this room cleaned,” will not produce the same results as “your bed needs to be made, your clothes need to be hung up and put into dresser drawers, and dirty clothes need to be in the wash before you go out with your friends.” The goal is to help your teen increase the number of successes he or she...