Communication and Your 13- to 18-Year-Old

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Parents

During this period, teens spend much of the day outside the home — at school or at after-school activities or jobs and with peers. But it's important to try to talk with your teen every day to share opinions, ideas, and information.

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 or standing in line at the supermarket to talk with your teen.
  • Provide activities that offer opportunities to improve communication skills, such as attending or engaging in sporting and school events, playing games, and talking about current events.

Vocabulary and Communication

Teens essentially communicate as adults, with increasing maturity throughout high school. They comprehend abstract language, such as idioms, figurative language, and metaphors. Explanations may become more figurative and less literal.

Teens should be able to process texts and abstract meaning, relate word meanings and contexts, understand punctuation, and form complex syntactic structures. However, communication is more than the use and understanding of words; 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.

If You Suspect a Problem

You should 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 speech-language evaluation.

A teen with a specific communication difficulty, such as persistent stuttering, should be referred to the school speech-language pathologist (an expert who evaluates and treats speech and language disorders).

Persistent stuttering and vocal-quality problems such as hoarseness, breathiness, or raspiness may require a medical evaluation by an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat specialist).

But in most cases, language difficulties will have been identified before this age. However, increasing academic troubles might indicate subtle problems.

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. However, severe disruption in the household isn't considered normal. If you feel that your relationship is particularly difficult, discuss it with your doctor.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: October 2011



Related Resources

Web SiteFRIENDS: The Association of Young People Who Stutter FRIENDS is a national organization that provides a supportive network for children and teens. It offers bimonthly digest, books, posters, and an annual convention. Call: (866) 866-8335
Web SiteOtolaryngology Resources on the Internet Recommended resources from the Bobby R. Alford Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Communicative Sciences.
OrganizationAssociation for Research Into Stammering in Childhood (ARSC) The ARSC is a British organization that funds scientific research into the causes of and treatments for stuttering in children and young adults.
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.
OrganizationNational Stuttering Association (NSA) NSA offers educational information about stuttering, outreach activities, support groups, and more.
Web SiteThe Stuttering Foundation The Stuttering Foundation provides free online resources, services and support to those who stutter and their families, as well as support for research into the causes of stuttering.


Related Articles

Stuttering Many young kids go through a stage when they stutter. Stuttering usually goes away on its own but in some cases lasts longer.
A Parent's Guide to Surviving the Teen Years You've lived through 2 AM feedings, toddler temper tantrums, and the back-to-school blues. So why is the word "teenager" causing you so much anxiety?
Fitness and Your 13- to 18-Year-Old Kids who enjoy exercise tend to stay active throughout their lives. Learn how to encourage fitness in your teen.
Speech-Language Therapy Working with a certified speech-language pathologist can help a child with speech or language difficulties.
Hearing Evaluation in Children Hearing problems can be treated if they're caught early, so it's important to get your child's hearing screened early and evaluated regularly.
Growth and Your 13- to 18-Year-Old Kids entering puberty will undergo many changes in their developing bodies, which are often quite dramatic. Find out more about what to expect.
Medical Care and Your 13- to 18-Year-Old Regular visits help your teen's doctor keep track of changes in physical, mental, and social development. The doctor can also help your teen understand the importance of choosing a healthy lifestyle.




Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2012 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.



 

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