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Why Teens Forget How to Talk

Why is it that a once happy, chatty child seems to forget how to talk upon reaching his or her teen years? In fact, the vocabulary of most teens seems to suddenly be reduced to the words “No,” “Don’t know,” “Nothin’,” and “Whatever.”

The answers are simple:

  • Adolescents know that the more they talk with and around adults, the more they open themselves up to adult judgment and criticism.
  • Adults select times to speak with teenagers that are convenient for them – not for the teenager. This means that conversation time with adults usually interferes with what the teen was doing or was about to do.

So now that you understand why your teen is so incommunicative, what can you do about it?

  • First, when you talk to your teen, make sure you have at least four or five times as many positive things to say (interest, acceptance, admiration and appreciation) as negative things (judgment, criticism, lecturing and warning). 
  • Second, pick a time to talk that is convenient for your son or daughter – even if it might be inconvenient for you. Being on the same “conversation schedule” can improve communication and make it more likely your child will open up and really “talk.”

But be careful what you wish for, your teen may talk your ear off...

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