As a therapist the one thing I see over and over again with teens and their parents is poor communication. Both sides often feel they aren’t being heard and both sides are often right.
Listening, truly hearing what the other person is saying, is a skill that takes practice but is essential. It’s common to be thinking about your response to something that is being said even before the person is finished talking. Sometimes we even interrupt what someone is saying because we “think” we know how the statement is going to end. Often this assumption is what causes conflict to occur.
It is important to completely hear someone out before a response is given. This doesn’t mean that agreement occurs, but that each person is able to get their viewpoint across which helps those involved to feel respected. The next time you think you know what someone is going to say take a deep breath and completely hear them out.
For anyone looking for help developing better communication skills, here’s a list of a few options:
- Free Counseling – Youth Services offers free counseling to youth 8-17 and their families. Therapists can help learn better ways of communicating and give an outside ear and advise.
- Parenting Classes – We also offer free classes to teach parenting tips and family management practices, particularly for parents of teens.
- Anger Management Classes – This is offered for youth at the same time/location as the parenting class. This way both can be learning at the same time, but with their own peers. Get Real – Anger Management is also a free class.
Here’s what a few of our customers have said about how getting help from a therapist has helped in their families:
“I felt it very helpful in learning to communicate in respectful ways. We also learned to try various approaches in our parenting/teenage relationship. It is helpful to not feel alone and to get a view from outside the home.”
“It was helpful and mostly made me understand my parents feelings.”
“It provided us with a place we were able to say the things we needed to without great conflict. All our problems are not solved. We appreciate the time spent and professional advice.”
There are also online ideas to improve family communication, like these ones:
Regardless of how you choose to work on communication skills within your family, it will definately be time well invested. What is one thing that you do as a family to improve communication? Share your ideas here!