Set the Right Tone when Talking with Your Teen

Ask the Experts by Lisa Kalinski

Q: I am worried that I am not setting the right tone in my home for open communication. I have a 13-year-old and hope that I'm not too late to change that as she moves further into the teen years?

A: It's not too late to work one better communication and trust with your children. We have a system called pro-active parenting that includes these seven key behaviors:

  1. Show interest in their activities, likes and dislikes
  2. Listen carefully to what your child says without saying what they did wrong or should have done differently
  3. Find ways to agree with them; say "Yes" whenever you can
  4. Focus on the desired behavior, rather than the one to be avoided
  5. Build children's images of themselves as trustworthy, responsible and cooperative
  6. Expect the best from them and encourage them often and vigorously
  7. Help them understand how their actions affect others

Every child has a unique personality and issues and obstacles to overcome, which make parental responsibilities even more challenging. But the sooner you learn to engage, listen and respond, rather than critically react, the better you can maintain meaningful trust, dialog and the ability to affect change and growth in your teen.

Lisa Kalinski, MA, LPC, currently serves as the Clinical Director for New Oakland Family Centers Wayne and Ingham counties. Her primary responsibilities include managing the day to day operations of the Outpatient and FACE to FACE Partial Hospitalization Programs. Lisa received her Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Oakland University. To reach Lisa, please This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 734-422-9340. New Oakland Family Centers 24-hour Crisis Line: 877-800-1650. New Oakland Family Centers is a member of The Family Center's Association of Professionals.

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