Adolescence can be an exciting and challenging time when both young people’s bodies and minds are going through lots of changes. Having at least one trusted adult they can talk to about sensitive topics, such as puberty, their feelings and growing up, really helps. Trusted adults can be parents, grandparents, other relatives, caregivers, teachers or coaches. Even a young person’s friends’ parents can provide advice, answer difficult questions, share their values and/or faith traditions. Regardless of who a trusted adult is, what matters is that this person provide the support a young person needs and deserves. This is especially true for young people facing additional physical, emotional or social challenges.
Young people can feel awkward and nervous about talking with adults, especially if they know adults are going to judge or lecture them. While an adult may want to do all of the talking and tell a young person how to feel and what to think, this is a sure way to have a young person withdraw. An adult who listens to what young people have to say and respects their experiences and perspectives will earn their trust. If a young person does not feel judged, that young person is more likely to be honest with an adult and seek out help if they get into trouble, feel uncomfortable at a party or need help handling a tough situation.
Effective communication is the foundation of healthy relationships, and this is true for relationships between young people and their parents, caregivers or other trusted adults. As a parent or trusted adult, you can help your child or another young person practice good communication skills by demonstrating healthy communication skills in your conversations with them and being a supportive listener when a young person needs help.
The easiest way to start conversations about communication is to talk about it as it comes up in everyday life, like while watching a show or movie together.
Here are some ways to start these conversations:
If you are watching a show or movie where a young person and a trusted adult are displaying positive communication and a safe and supportive relationship, you can ask your child whether they feel like they have that type of relationship with you or another trusted adult.
If you notice that your child is having a bad day or feeling down, remind them that you are there for them if and when they feel ready to talk about what is going on. This opens the door to communication and shows that you are available and willing to be a good listener.