During this period, teens spend much of the day outside the home — at school or
at after-school activities or jobs and with their friends. But it's important
to try to talk with your teen every day to share opinions, ideas, and information.
Communicating With Your Teen
Here are a few tips to help you communicate with your teen:
Make time during the day or evening to hear about your teen's activities; be sure
that he or she knows you are actively interested and listening carefully.
Remember to talk with your teen, not at him or her.
Ask questions that go beyond "yes" or "no" answers to prompt
more developed conversation.
Take advantage of time during car trips to talk with your teen.
Make time for sporting and school events, playing games, and talking about
Vocabulary and Communication
Teens essentially communicate as adults, with increasing maturity throughout high
school. They comprehend abstract and figurative language, such as:
idioms ("hit the nail on the head," "on thin ice," "see
eye to eye," etc.)
similes ("tough as nails," "clean as a whistle," "strong
as an ox," etc.)
metaphors ("she's a night owl," "that place was a zoo," "time
is money," etc.)
Explanations may become more figurative and less literal.
Teens should be able to grasp word meanings and contexts, understand punctuation,
and form complex syntactic structures (how words are put together). Communication
is more than the use and understanding of words, though — it also includes how teens
think of themselves, their peers, and authority figures.
As teens seek independence from family and establish their own identity, they begin
thinking abstractly and become concerned with moral issues. All of this shapes the
way they think and communicate.
When Should We Get Help?
Have ongoing communication with your teen's teachers about overall language skills
and progress. If the teachers suspect a language-based learning disability, comprehensive
testing will be necessary. This can include a hearing test, psychoeducational assessment
(standardized testing to assess learning style as well as cognitive processes), and
A teen with a specific communication problem, such as stuttering,
should be referred to the school speech-language
pathologist (an expert who evaluates and treats speech and language disorders).
Vocal-quality problems such as hoarseness,
breathiness, or raspiness may need a medical evaluation by an
(an ear, nose, and throat specialist). But in most cases, language problems
have been found before this age.
Parents often feel that the teen
years are a time of difficult communication, when it's normal for teens to challenge
parents and resist authority. But behavior that causes severe disruption in the household
may not be normal teen rebellion. If you feel that your relationship is particularly
trying, talk about it with your doctor.