The importance of social networking has always been a part of high school. Recent generations have turned to the internet and sites like Facebook and MySpace to accomplish this task. One of the many problems associated with online social networking for teenagers is that of public exclusion. Thanks to these types of sites, it is easier then ever to share the everyday tasks of one’s life; teenagers will post pictures from outings regardless of the impact those posts may have on friends not included in the event. [Read more…] about Social Networking: In Person
I’ll never forget the time one of my authorities (falsely) accused me of being rebellious. She had just rattled off a stream of qualifications for how I was supposed to present a request. The timing was mind-boggling, at least to me. I think I had to turn in a form the morning of the last Thursday before the second Monday of the month, unless it was an odd-numbered month, in which case — You get the idea.
My mind was spinning, and I knew I couldn’t get it straight — no less remember it for next month, unless I could see it on paper. “Can I get that in writing?” I asked. That’s when she accused me of questioning her authority. I really wasn’t: I was just admitting, in my own way, that I needed to see the details in order to be able to fulfill them; I’m a visual learner.
Learning Style Basics
In retrospect, I could have been more diplomatic in my request, but the fact is that I only knew to make the request because I was mature and educated enough to realize what I needed personally in order to hope to meet my responsibilities. Most teens aren’t there yet — and, too often, neither are their parents. Most of us tend to think the way we do and function the way we do, assuming everyone else processes information the same way — especially our kids. After all, they have the same genes, right?
The fact is that there are three different basic learning styles, and depending on your son or daughter’s dominant one, you can communicate more effectively by appealing to it. In addition, the more ways anyone is presented with information, the more likely it is to be received and understood.
Remembering the Goal
Even if you personally favor a certain method of communication, remember that actual communication is the goal.
For instance, if your teen states that he prefers to get a text or an e-mail to remind him about a responsibility, when you’d rather call him or shout down the hall, deferring to his preferences will likely yield a better result.
Insisting on communicating your expectations in your preferred manner of communication will only come across as self-serving, and communication breakdown will be the most likely result. Your relationship will probably suffer, too, and unnecessarily.
Appealing to Auditory Learners
As you might guess, auditory learners rely heavily on hearing something in order to process it. So a detailed diagram or reading assignment in school might not be nearly as helpful as actually hearing the lecture — or reading the text aloud. On the home front, you should know that if your son or daughter is an auditory learner, hearing your instructions or expectations is significant, as is repeating them back to you.
Distracting sounds can affect how effective communication is, as well. Loving, life-giving spoken words will speak volumes, as will negative verbal communication— including things they overhear. For the auditory learner, hearing what’s important will be key.
If you personally feel awkward and left out when it comes to your social skills, don’t worry. Socially awkward teens (and even adults) are very common. During your teenage years, many things change that you must learn to adapt to, and social situations are one of them. Adjusting to the different ways that your peers socialize can sometimes be difficult, but it’s important that you don’t beat yourself up if you feel awkward around others. Instead, work on your social skills on a day to day basis. If you fail or make a fool of yourself, do not turn away; pick yourself up and try again. Mastering social skills is an important part of growing up.
The first step to overcoming being socially awkward is to take action. Attend school events such as sporting events, school dances, fundraisers, and presentations as often as possible, as these experiences will allow you to interact more with people. The more you expose yourself, the more opportunities you’ll have to practice your social skills. Joining a club or organization can also help you to build self-confidence and build friendships, and by becoming involved in different activities around school, you will start build your communication skills by being part of a group.
Through friendships, people will get to know you better, and as this happens, you will become more comfortable around them. The more comfortable you are, the less likely you are to feel socially awkward. Yes, taking the initiative to immerse yourself in social situations will be difficult at first. But it will eventually get easier, and the payoff is huge.
Learn to understand body language.
Body language can tell you a great deal about another person (even if only subconsciously), so it is important to understand your own body language and how others view it. Body language is an important factor of communication and can increase your attractiveness if you know how to “say” the right things with your mannerisms. Learning to control your body language also helps to reduce mixed messages (which can encourage social awkwardness).
Good posture, for example, will encourage a controlled and focused body language, and a steady voice can boost your confidence and show the person you are talking to that you know what you’re talking about. Maintaining eye contact with someone you’re speaking to is another good example of body language (as long as you break eye contact semi-regularly to avoid giving them the impression that you’re “staring them down”). Finally, when you’re having a conversation, try not to fidget (pick your nails, shake your feet, etc.). Giving off the right messages with your body language can go a long way in positively influencing other people’s opinions of you.
Do not be afraid to talk.
Talking is our main means of communication, so whether it’s by phone or in person, be sure to be confident in what you are saying. The more you talk, the more you can learn to express your ideas or standpoints to a group comfortably. By talking and communicating, you can become a leader.
In order to build your social skills, start small by initiating conversations with those around you. This can help you get to know others and will help you build your communication skills. Usually, the easiest thing to talk about is yourself, so start there. Be sure to let the other people participate in the conversation as well, though, as part of being a good communicator is to be a good listener.
While it may not be the easiest thing to perfect right away, it’s important to take the time to build your social skills. It may not seem like it, but everyone has their socially awkward moments. They key is to learn to laugh them off and to forgive yourself for the awkward or embarrassing mistakes you make in communication.
Things to avoid when parenting teens:
If you parent teens, you are going to make mistakes. There is no denying that these are difficult years, and when your teen happens to be a particularly difficult one to parent, your job can be even more challenging. One way to make it a little less difficult is to avoid some common mistakes and to learn to recognize them when you do make them.
Teens do not respond well to lectures, yet it seems to be the first line of attack that many parents take when their kids are acting up. Remember, your teens are nearing their adult years, and they want to be treated in a somewhat adult manner. You need to find a way to discuss difficulties with them, instead of lecturing, while still maintaining your authority as the parent.
To effectively guide your teen in the right direction, keep discussions open, and in general, avoid telling teens outright that they’re wrong. Instead, try to formulate the conversation in such a way that your teen feels he or she has made the conclusion on their own.
Making empty threats
Most parents of teens will attest to the fact that they have, on occasion, barked angrily, “Fine, you’re grounded!” at their child in a moment of frustration.
Many times, though, parents fail to follow through on these consequences after they threaten their child with them. This can destroy your child’s respect for you. If you state that there will be a consequence, then you need to follow through.
If you decide afterwards that the punishment was too hastily administered or was not deserved, then you need to clearly tell your teen why you changed your mind. Make these exceptions rare, however, because this too will eventually undermine your child’s respect for you if exceptions are too frequent.
Failing to make family time a priority
Your teen needs family time, no matter how much he or she might argue to the contrary. Make sure that you make family time of some sort a priority, even if it’s something as simple as eating dinner together. Your kid is going to want to eat, and if you require family meals, then he will have to spend some time with the family in order to get fed. Family time gives you the chance to notice changes in mood or behavior before they turn into disasters. It also reinforces your love for your child, even when your child is being difficult.
Staying behind the times
You do not necessarily have to be a “hip” parent, but staying too far behind the times is going to make it difficult for you to connect with your kids. You should take the time to understand the technology they use, listen to the bands they love, and watch the television programs they like. Not only will this give you something to talk about, but it will also give you insight into potentially damaging media influences.
Teens are challenging to parent; there’s no denying that. But you can do it- and successfully at that, as long as you’re willing to keep trying. You simply need to remember that your child is going to push back. They are going to constantly test your boundaries and the limits of your patience, but do not give up on them. Keep the rules consistent, be vigilant in enforcing them, and soon, your teen will catch on.
Refusing to seek help
Remember, most teens eventually outgrow their teenage behaviors and attitudes. Sometimes, though, a teen’s behavior can go beyond simple teenage rebellion. If your son or daughter is surrounded by negative influences, is experiencing trouble in school, exhibits a defiant personality, has begun to use drugs or alcohol, or is otherwise struggling with growing up, it could be time to seek help from an outside source. Boarding schools are an excellent resource for helping you and your teen through the teenage years.
Unlike military schools, which employ a discipline-only program, some boarding schools have a more balanced approach to helping teens. At certain types of boarding schools, students are rehabilitated through a time-tested and individualized program consisting of both discipline and reward. Students receive the love and guidance they need to transition from a troubled teen into an emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually healthy young adult.
Friends mean the world to teenagers. Their social life, which they are connected to 24/7 with their mobile devices, can sometimes seem like the only thing they care about. As a parent, you need to do what you can to be connected to this friendship circle so that you can know what your teens are up to and what social influences are in their life. Below you’ll find the top tips for keeping track of your teen’s social life.
Keep conversations open and honest.
Talk to your teenager, if they will let you, about who they hang out with. Even if all you know is a name or two, you’ll still know more than many other parents. You can use this information to learn more on your own about these kids and whether or not they are a good influence on your teenager.
Invite friends into your home.
Can you invite your teen’s friends over for dinner? This can give you the chance to build a relationship with the friends and also to see for yourself what type of person they are. If the invitation is refused or your teen is not willing to have his friends in your home, you may be right to suspect a problem.
Be prepared for defiance.
If you notice that your teen has friendships that are not healthy, your first inclination may be to issue an outright ultimatum. Be cautious about this avenue, however. If you tell your teen, “You cannot hang out with so-and-so,” chances are they will balk and will find even more ways to hang out with the undesirable companion. Instead, if the friendship seems dangerous, take the time to talk to your teenager about your concerns.
If possible, give them some space afterwards and let them conclude on their own that the friendship is not a healthy one. If your teen is not in immediate danger from the friendship, you may consider giving them time and letting them learn from experience. A toxic friend will soon make life miserable for your teen, and this is a life lesson that is worth learning early. If there is danger, such as gang involvement, drug use, or bullying, then you may have to step in and set that ultimatum. Just be prepared for a battle if you do.
If you feel it’s necessary, get your child’s Facebook information and access to their cell phone, and check into these venues. See what kind of communication occurs between your teen and their friends. You may be surprised at the information you find out. If your child knows you will be checking, he may be more cautious about whom he chats with in these venues.
Be extremely cautious with this, however. If you snoop into your teen’s correspondence without them knowing and they find out about it, you run the risk of causing a serious rift in your relationship with your son or daughter. Teens value their privacy and individuality, and if you disrespect that need for space and privacy, it could take a very, very long time for you to repair your relationship with your teen. If you must snoop, consider simply doing it openly. And if you decide to do it in secret, make sure you’re absolutely certain that your teen won’t catch on.
Seek help when necessary.
Remember, in the end, you are still the parent, but friendships are one thing that can be very hard to control. Do what you can to help your teen make wise decisions, and be there for the child when friendships go south. Also, recognize your teen’s ability to make their own decisions, and allow them to learn some life lessons on their own. In this way, you can try to build a stronger relationship with your teen, all while keeping tabs on the influence other kids are having on him as well.
If your teen is surrounded by negative influences or if they possess an outright defiant personality, then perhaps it’s time for you to seek help from an outside source. Boarding schools are a great alternative to military-style schools, as certain boarding schools employ a more balanced approach to helping teens. At some boarding schools, students are rehabilitated through a time-tested and individualized program consisting of both discipline and reward. Students receive the love and guidance they need to transition from a troubled teen into an emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually healthy young adult.