I remember when our kids were little- like preschool little. An adult would come along- perhaps a family friend or relative, and talk directly to them, asking them a question. Our kid would freeze, instantly turn to look at us, and then we had to decide. Answer the question on their behalf and rescue them, or keep the pressure on them and let them figure it out.
I’ve noticed lately that a lot of kids are much older and still get that deer-in-the-headlights look on their faces when I try to talk to them. Even more disturbing, if they’re around their parents, I see a lot of parents answer for them. I think that’s generally fine when your kid is four or six or eight. But when a kid is twelve, fifteen, or even older- that’s a problem.
As we guide our kids through these tumultuous years, one skill stands out as a true game-changer: the ability to have thoughtful conversations. Trust me, I get it – the eye-rolls, monosyllabic grunts, and seemingly impenetrable walls of teenage communication can be maddening. But hang tight because the eventual rewards are worth the costs.
Why Thoughtful Conversations Matter for Your Teen's Future
The Importance of Adult Exposure and Uncomfortable Conversations
So, how do we prepare our teens for a future filled with purposeful dialogue? One key is exposing them to real conversations with adults. Engaging in discussions with grown-ups broadens their worldview and equips them with valuable skills. Encourage your teens to participate in family conversations, engage with your friends, and even join you in professional settings if possible. The more they observe and practice, the more confident they'll become.
Here's some advice that might sound counterintuitive: resist the urge to rescue your kids in conversations. It's natural to want to swoop in when they're stumbling or feeling uneasy, but consider this a prime opportunity for growth. Allowing your teenager to navigate tricky conversations on their own encourages resilience and self-discovery. Let them experience the discomfort of not having all the answers – it's in those moments that real growth happens.
Embrace Awkwardness, Foster Growth
Remember, growth doesn't come from comfort zones – it thrives in the awkwardness, the uncertainties, and the occasional flubs. When your teen is asked a question, and they feel their heart racing, don't be too quick to intervene. Let them grapple with the discomfort, formulate their response, and learn from the experience. Over time, they'll emerge with newfound confidence and the ability to hold their own in conversations, no matter how challenging.
In a world dominated by fleeting messages and emojis, the power of a thoughtful conversation is unparalleled. It's a skill that transcends the digital realm and resonates in the real world. So, as you guide your teenagers through the tumultuous sea of adolescence, don't forget to equip them with this invaluable tool. They'll thank you when they step into adulthood, ready to conquer the world with their words.
In the grand scheme of things, teaching your kids to converse thoughtfully might just be one of the most significant gifts you can give them. It's like planting a seed that'll grow into a mighty oak of connection, success, and confidence. So, fellow parents, let's embrace the eye-rolls and monosyllabic responses – our teens are on the brink of something extraordinary. And it all starts with a simple, meaningful conversation.
For years we’ve been studying what a young person needs in order to transition into a healthy, thriving adulthood.
They're uncommon sense ideas, really.
Download this checklist and use it with your students (or kids).