Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

​​​​​​Disciplining Teens Issue1234

Communicating ​With Silence

The progress of speech from birth to adolescence usually goes something like ​this:

  • Stage 1 - Infants communicate through crying, laughing and cooing.
  • Stage 2 - Young toddlers voice a few words.
  • Stage 3 - The dam breaks, and your young child talks and talks and talks until you think he or she might pass out from ​lack of oxygen.

But then something strange happens. When your child enters his or her teenage years, rather than progressing to a higher stage of communication, this once talkative kid instead reverts to Stage 2, speaking in single words or short phrases, punctuated only by the occasional glare or eye roll. Your thoughtful questions are greeted with responses such as, "I don't know," "Nothing," or "Whatever."

So what's going on here? Has your child lost the ability to speak? Hardly. In fact, he or she likely speaks perfectly well with his or her peers. The problem, unfortunately, is you and others of your kind - adults.

You see, your teen has learned that communicating with adults opens him or her up to judgment and criticism. And they're mostly right. After all, most adults feel superior to teens, and that makes it difficult not to be condescending and judgmental when speaking with them. If adults spoke with teens on subjects in which they were actually interested (their loves and hates, favorite pop stars, sports teams, etc.), rather than communicating only to deliver lectures and warnings, they would find teenagers are quite capable of carrying on conversations.

One other issue worth mentioning is that parents often engage in conversation with their teens at times that are convenient to them. This means that the conversation in question is taking time away from your teen - time he or she would likely spend playing video games or texting with friends. That means your teen sees communicating with you as a penalty. Instead, why not pick a time that's convenient for your teen? There's a much better chance you'll find your teen engaged rather than withdrawn.

Teaching Activity

Learn About Their Interests

There are other ways to communicate besides speech. Music, for instance, can communicate emotion incredibly well. So for this activity, let your teen do just that with a "DJ Night." Have your teen provide the soundtrack for your family dinner. If there are multiple teens or kids in your house, each kid gets a night. Talking about music is a good way to share interests and learn what your kids like and why they like it. Ask them what they know about the artist and where they first heard the song. Google the artist and learn more about them.

Social Skills

Expressing Feelings Appropriately

When teens finally do decide to speak, they may have trouble communicating their feelings. Remember, thanks to human physiology, they're driven by emotion and instant gratification at that age. So, if your teen wants to express his or her feelings, the following steps can be useful:

  • Remain - calm and relaxed.
  • Look - at the person you are talking to.
  • Describe - the feelings you are currently having.
  • Avoid - profanity and statements of blame.
  • Take Responsibility - for the feelings you are having.
  • Thank - the person for listening.

Coming up in Issue 4

Creating Rewards for Effective Discipline


Develop a Rewards System


Staying on Task

Read Our Guides        
Ask A Question