How to strengthen parent and teen communication

There are many resources available to strengthen behavior and development within families.

Michigan State University Extension has a wide variety of resources for families to draw upon to strengthen family life and influence behavior and development. Parents and youth may find resources to support positive life styles as a result of visiting the MSU Extension website.

Since 1992, Liberty Mutual and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) have funded educational projects aimed at teen drivers. Liberty Mutual is quick to point out that most teens do make healthy decisions on a day-to-day basis. They also emphasize that teens who do talk with someone about important issues are more likely to make healthy decisions. Teens who have honest communications with their parents tend to make good choices.

The following guidelines can be used to promote open communication between teens and parents.

  • Praise your children for doing the little things that can so easily be taken for granted.
  • Make an extra effort to understand your teen’s world.
  • Set a good example—your kids will do as you do.
  • Talk with your kids early and often about tough topics.
  • Teach your kids to listen by listening to what they have to say.
  • Read between the lines. Your children may find it hard to say what is on their mind.
  • Always remember the importance of reasoning.
  • Lighten up—take time off if you need to. Have fun with your teenager.
  • Give back to the community by performing community service family projects. Ask teens for ideas of ways to help others in your neighborhood.
  • Be prepared to let some things go, and take advantage of opportunities to make a positive point.
  • Respect your child—try to work together as partners.
  • Remind your child that you love them and care about their safety.
  • Don’t ever give up. Know that it is getting better with every passing day, as long as you continue to make the effort.

The entire parent-student survey including more information about parent/teen communications, can be found online by visiting the SADD website.

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