Adolescence is one of the most complicated for parents and children alike. Most of the times, one of the most complicated parts of parenting teenagers is all the communication problems that arise for various and varied reasons. Sometimes these communication issues are just part of the teen rebellion, while other times they are more of a demonstration of your teenager’s lack of social skills.
Believe it or not, your teen may still need help learning social skills even if he’s in high school. Plus, there are several things there are things parents can do to help improve their teens’ social skills – and most of them are relatively easy to do.
Social skills of the model
No matter how old your child is, they still learn a lot just by looking at you. Therefore, the Brain Balance team claims that parents can help their teenager develop social skills by simply modeling the appropriate social skills in daily interactions.
When modeling your teen’s social skills, be sure to incorporate the following:
Awareness of body language
All of these skills are an important part of healthy socialization, but they must be taught over time. Unfortunately, with so many kids spending so much time in front of screens now, some of these skills are harder than ever to teach. However, you can teach these skills just by modeling them.
While it is important for your teen to see you interacting with your own friends and family while using healthy social skills, he or she also needs to see these interactions taking place when you are interacting with them. It may mean that you have to make a more conscious effort to avoid retreating into your cell phone or sitting in awkward silence. You can also do this by participating in volunteer work or even playing sports together.
Use games to practice your social skills
Sometimes teens don’t want to observe or even practice their social skills the same way a young child would. However, Urban Wellness experts claim that you can easily practice social skills with your teenager in more covert ways, like playing board games.
For example, cooperative games require players to communicate with each other to achieve their goals. These games teach teens how to ask questions, follow other people’s directions, and share important information with their teammates. Likewise, board games like Say Anything or Telestrations also involve a lot of communication and sharing, not to mention being fun. There are even games that specifically require you to practice speaking to yourself or using non-verbal communication to relay messages, like Charades.
Whatever games you choose to play, your teenager will have plenty of opportunities to practice their social skills and you will also have plenty of opportunities to model effective communication.
Let your teenager take control
Sometimes it’s not that your teenager lacks social skills, it’s just that he hasn’t had the opportunity to practice those skills. However, parents can give their children the opportunity to practice social skills in everyday situations.
For example, you can let your teenager handle the interaction with the cashier when you check out. Or, you can instruct them to call to order pizza. Whatever you choose, make it a fairly common type of interaction so that they can practice the skills they will need as they grow and move.
Let your child know that you fully accept it
Most of the time, teens who struggle with social skills know they are socially awkward. This often makes them feel ashamed of themselves and back down even further. Fortunately, the Succeed Socially team says parents can actually help their teen improve their social skills by simply providing them with unconditional love and words of encouragement.
Instead of criticizing or lecturing them, find ways to genuinely care about what makes your child unique. If you can make a real connection with your child, you can show him that people will accept him and even enjoy his company. In fact, you can go out and do things with your teen in public so that they can learn to interact more comfortably (with your support).
Also, avoid comparing your child to his peers or even to his siblings. Instead, recognize their unique talents and teach all of your kids that no two people are exactly the same.
Over time, this can boost their self-confidence and help them improve their social skills even further. They just need to see that they are an interesting and lovable person, even though they are not exactly the same as everyone else.
Social skills are hard to master, especially for awkward teens. Fortunately, parents who model skills and provide opportunities for their children to practice their social skills can see dramatic improvements in their teens’ social skills.
Sources: Brain balance, Urban well-being, Socially successful
Dinner time is a wonderful time to strike up a conversation with your teenage children.
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