Communicating With Your Adolescent

Communicating With Your Adolescent
How effective is your communication with your teen? Do you feel as though what you have to say is getting through? Or, do you feel like the family photo hanging on the wall is more responsive? Well, perhaps you could use some tips from Sue Blaney, communications expert and author of You’re Empowered! Parenting Teens with Conviction, Communication and Love, a three-part audio series and companion workbook that provides insightful, easy-to-understand and apply tips and suggestions to improve communication with your adolescent.

This audio series contains three, 60-minute CDs: De-mystifying Teens; Improving Communication; and Keeping Your Teens Safe From Risky Behavior. So, even for those of us with more items on our ‘To Do’ list than can possibly be done in a lifetime can conveniently find time to listen in the car during our commute, at the gym on the treadmill, or even at our computers. Communication is one of the most important and powerful tools we have in our parenting toolbox. This audio series is worth the time spent in order to hone our communication skills. Also included is the Companion Workbook with 24 pages brimming with accessible and actionable tips, hints, and strategies along with brief exercises to help you focus on what really matters…your relationship with your teen.

One of the most helpful features in this series is what Sue Blaney calls the “Parents’ Action Tool”. This is a series of seven questions designed for parents to ask themselves prior to acting or reacting to situations involving their adolescents:

1) What’s the issue or problem? This is the initial step…ascertaining what the crux of the issue is by separating out all of the emotions and ancillary details to gain some clarity.
2) How do I feel about it?” It’s often difficult to separate our feelings from the facts. We are emotional creatures by nature and sometimes tend to rely on our emotions. Being honest in this area is essential.
3) What part of this issue belongs to me, and what part is my teenager’s issue?” As adolescents strive for more independence, part of their struggle is learning personal responsibility. This is often difficult for parents as we tend to want to shield our teens from difficulties…but it’s a necessary skill for them to learn.
4) What is my range of options? There are always options and alternatives to how we handle situations. Brainstorm these options and alternatives and realize that there is a difference between a non-negotiable rule and areas were compromise can be made.
5) How much of this can I control? Should I? What’s at stake? Take into consideration the developmental process your teen has undergone. Is his or her behavior appropriate? You know your teen’s temperament best. Is this behavior consistent?
6) What do I need to teach? To say? To learn?” Answer these rhetorical questions. They will help guide you in your actions.
7) What do I need to feel comfortable?” Change is difficult for everyone. New situations are included in this category. Take stock of what you need to feel comfortable as new situations arise, and use those needs as a point of negotiation as your family charts new territory.

Blaney, S. (2008). You’re empowered! Parenting teens with conviction, communication, and love [Audio CD and workbook]. Acton, MA: Changeworks Publishing and Consulting. ($29.95)

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