Friday, December 31, 2010

Communicating With Teenagers

Sometimes, I read a post on an internet chat group that is a must-share. Carolyn Glass wrote this a couple of years ago in a discussion on the yahoo group, "communicating", and as the discussion this week again turned to communicating with teenagers, I bumped up this old post so that we could revisit it. And this time, I asked Carolyn if I could share her brilliant thoughts on my blog with you. She graciously said yes.

Hey everyone,

I just had an "aha" CP moment about conversations. You've heard Dr. Jim and many others on this list talk about the merits of the CP method for all kinds of children and adults. Well, I discovered it also works like magic with having conversations with typically-developing
teenagers!

Last night, I received the highest form of praise I can imagine coming from my 16-yr-old niece: She called me "my aunt who totally rocks...." I'm adding it to my resume! :) I owe it all to Communicating Partners, because I realized that I have been using CP strategies to get to know her recently (as well as several other nieces and nephews I had previously not known well, since they all live far away).

Here are the CP strategies I have been utilizing. Give them a try...they work wonders!

Matching: I joined Facebook! This niece who now thinks I "rock" is someone I rarely see, who would not dream of writing a letter or even fuss with email, and who says a few polite words to me when we see each other once every few years is a different person on Facebook! I entered her world, spoke her "language," watched first to see how she communicated on FB, then joined in her activity, on her terms. I know that when we see each other in person again (my world!), we will have a much different--more positive--experience, since I first joined her in her world.

Balancing: I am careful to maintain good FB etiquette, not taking too many turns in a row and keeping my conversation pieces short--about as long as hers. If she does not write back to me immediately, I wait "silently but with anticipation" for her to respond. She always does.

Being Responsive: I respond to the little things she says on FB--things she cares about, such as the new hairdo she's sprouting in her new profile picture or responding to a questionairre she has "tagged" me on.

Sharing control: I am careful not to dominate the conversation, but take her lead at least about half the time and introduce my own topics about half the time. I don't deluge her with questions or get "teachy" or "preachy" with her. Then when I have something really important to say, she appears to really listen.

Being Emotionally Connected: We have established a warm, caring relationship with each other. I'll send a private note of condolence when she has posted something about having a rotten day, and we commisserated with each other when we were both missing our "sweeties" (my husband was out of the country for a few weeks and her boyfriend lives in another state). We grumbled together about all the chores we have to get done today, and we came up with a friendly competition to see who can get her housework done first today (she has the unfair advantage of having only her room to clean and little else, but I don't have to go to school today, so we're even!)

I am so enjoying having this new connection with her and all my other nieces and nephews I'm getting to know. Thanks Jim and CP!!!

Carolyn

1 comment:

Di said...

Like :)

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