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October Newsletter

Hilldale Middle School's Newsletter

Tips for Parents:  Communicating with Your Teen

By:  Tracy H. Fenton, M.Ed., NBCT.,  School Psychologist

Good parents spend a lot of time talking with their teens.  They know that both the quantity and quality of their conversations count.  Set an example by the courteous, caring, attentive way you communicate with your teen and others.  Keep an open mind so your children feel free to readily express themselves to you.

Do Things Together.  Share activities with your teen that promote conversation, such as playing games, taking walks, riding bikes, fishing, flying kites, or watching quality TV together.  Simply being together!

Choose the Best Time to Talk.  It’s best to talk when everyone is well-rested and without pressing tasks to get done.  Make time each day to talk to your teen.

Holding Family Meetings, help bring the family together.  Starting early will establish the meeting as a tradition.  Plan meetings to discuss and write down family rules and the consequences or disobeying them.  Hold meetings to discuss good things, too.  Meetings can be held to celebrate a school or family success or to decide how to reinforce and increase progress.

Become an Active Listener.  Good communicators practice the art of active listening.  The behavior of active listeners tells those speaking that they’re being paid attention to.  When you actively listen to your teen, you help them feel valued.  This makes them more willing to communicate with you.  Active listening is an acquired skill.  These techniques can help you master it:

 Speak encouragingly:  “Tell me more…”   “Can you describe that…”
 Ask for clarification:  “Help me understand what you meant…”
 Restate points:  “Tell me if I heard you right…”
 Share reflections:  “It seems like you are feeling…”
 Summarize:  “If I understand you correctly, you said…”
 Validate:  “You have every right to feel…”
 Show interest:  “Wow, that must have been…”
 Use body language:  Make good eye contact.  Lean toward them.
 Empathize:  Try to understand their feelings and thoughts.

Use a Quiet, Courteous Voice.  Choose words and concepts teens will understand.

Give your Teen a Chance to Explain.   Avoid jumping to conclusions.

Eliminate Communication-Stoppers.  Avoid guilt, commands, ultimatums, preaching, judging or words like “never” or “always.”

Avoid Nagging.  Most teens tune it out.  Be brief.  Teenagers retain shorter messages longer.

Preventing Isolation.  While it’s natural for teens to seek out some privacy, isolation within their own family is a problem that must be addressed.  Use your active listening skills to draw out any of your children who seen isolated, and find out if something is wrong.

Parent Alert!
If your teen is not communicating, deliberate separation can be a sign of depression or other serious problems.  Be gently persistent in coaxing your teen to talk.  Sometimes you just have to patiently sit with silence, and wait.  If your teen’s silence remains for more than a couple of days, consider contacting a counselor.

For more information and resources, contact:

Tracy Fenton, School Psychologist at 683-0763 or email:  Tracy_Fenton@hilldale.k12.ok.us

Hilldale Public Schools313 E Peak Blvd.Muskogee, OK  74403


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