Teen Issues Today: 10 Tips and Tools of Communication for Parents with Teens -- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens Author Gives Advice to Parents Regarding Teen Issues in New Book: The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make

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Parents and teens today are faced with a wide range of serious teen issues, the likes of which past generations have not faced. Depression, suicide, low self-esteem, abuse and neglect, violence, divorce, poverty, inadequate education, substance abuse, pornography, and unwanted pregnancies are only part of the long list of problems plaguing today's youth. The need for good communication between parents and teens has never been greater. Parents can strengthen relationships with their teens by applying basic tips and tools of communication as they interact with their teens.

Parents often say to me, 'I don't spend a lot of time with my teen, but the time I do spend is quality time. Although that time needs to be quality time, you also need a sufficient quantity of time

    "Parents are, and always will be, the most significant influence in the lives of teens and in preventing these kinds of negative outcomes," said Sean Covey, bestselling author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens and his new book, The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make: A Guide for Teens. "When parents use some very simple tips and tools of communication, they will more easily be able to talk with their teens about the difficult teen issues they face." (Visit http://www.6decisions.com for a free copy of The Ultimate Parent Survival Guide.)

Covey, who is also a senior vice president of innovations and products at FranklinCovey(R) (NYSE:FC), said, "The best way parents and teens can build a solid relationship is to spend time together. For a relationship to withstand the challenges that can arise with today's teen issues, you've got to talk with each other, sharing thoughts and feelings and really getting to know one another on a deeper level. This type of interaction between parents and teens takes time and effort, but the payoff is worth it."

Covey believes that both the quality and quantity of time parents spend with their teens are extremely important if they really want to build a strong relationship.

"Parents often say to me, 'I don't spend a lot of time with my teen, but the time I do spend is quality time. Although that time needs to be quality time, you also need a sufficient quantity of time," said Covey. "Parents who try to multitask and juggle too many things at once, can leave teens feeling like they don't have their parents' focused attention and that they are not important. When those inner needs are not met, teens turn to outside influences to bridge the gap."

Prior to writing both of his books, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens and The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make: A Guide for Teens, Covey spoke with and received letters from thousands of teens throughout the world to help him better understand current teen issues and the challenges they face. He offers the following tips and tools for communication to parents to help them improve their relationships with their teens:

10 Tips and Tools of Communication for Parents with Teens

-- Understand What is Important to Them

Never assume that just because something isn't important to you that it isn't important to your teen. You may be interested in the stock market while they're interested in the latest hair styles. Get into their heads.

-- Tell the Truth

Always tell the truth. Nothing destroys trust and respect faster than dishonesty. If you expect honesty from your teen, be honest. Set the example.

-- Listen

Before you start to give advice to your teen, make sure you really listen empathically to what they are saying and feeling. If you start giving advice, solutions, or telling your own autobiographical stories without first understanding their perspective, they will check out and not hear anything you're saying.

-- Focus on the Positive

Affirm them constantly. Your job is to be a cheerleader. If teens are inundated with negative criticism about their incorrect decisions, they will withdraw and communication will be more difficult or non-existent.

-- Be Accessible

Be available when they need you to be, not when it is convenient for you. They may want to talk at 12:30 am, and you may have to get up early in the morning, but you need to talk when they are willing to open up.

-- Don't Take Offense

Your teens will do all kinds of things that push your hot buttons. Remember, they are still learning. Choose not to take offense. You need to always be steady, because they won't be.

-- Remember the Little Things

When it comes to relationships, the little things are the big things. Little things could be sharing a kind word, a warm smile, a thank-you note, or giving a compliment.

-- Sincerely Apologize

It takes a lot of courage to admit that you made a mistake and you were wrong. But do it. Your teen will respect you more because of it.

-- Sense a Need and Then Do It

Don't wait for your teens to ask you for help. Sense their needs and then do what you can to fulfill those needs. If you see that they are stressed out because of homework assignments, pitch in and help before they ask.

-- Be Respectful

When it comes to getting along with anyone, the single most important word is "please." Along with that you should always say, "thank you," "I love you," and always ask, "How can I help?"

Covey said, "As a teen, I was able to discuss any issue with my parents, knowing that they genuinely wanted to understand how I was feeling. I was assured that I could go to them for anything, even if it was a serious issue. That kind of relationship takes time to build so that it is strong enough to withstand the pressures, which will inevitably come. And, when that pressure comes, don't ever give up on the relationship, no matter how difficult."

ABOUT SEAN COVEY

Sean Covey is the bestselling author of the wildly popular The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, which has sold more than three million copies and has been translated into 16 languages in 120 countries worldwide, and The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make: A Guide for Teens. Covey graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English and earned an MBA from Harvard. He resides in the Rocky Mountains with his wife Rebecca and children, including two teens.

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