Featured Parenting Tip: Talking to Your Teens

As parent, writer, and co-founder of a website on parenting teens and tweens Whitney Fleming writes, “the only thing I know for certain about raising teenagers is I have no idea what I’m doing.”

Even knowing how to talk to your teen can be a challenge.

That’s why we asked Don Heard to share his thoughts. A parent to four, Don has devoted his forty-year career to working with youth, including the last two decades at the YMCA of Central Ohio. 

He offers straight talk tempered by hard experience. It starts with a willingness to confront tough conversations, but to do so lovingly and respectfully. He suggests finding neutral locations for these conversations. 

Most important, set and model ground rules for positive ways to engage. Avoid yelling, threats, or other behavior that create more distance. Build bridges. Remember that kids may not listen to what we say but they always mimic what we do.

Don also tells us that we shouldn’t wait until a crisis or issue arises to learn how to talk with a teen. Even something as simple as asking about school can keep the lines of communication open. 

Be sure that your child knows you care and that you’ve always got their back. 

Finally, Don emphasizes that keeping youth connected to school matters. Truancy or academic problems often happen because kids don’t find anything at school that they care about. 

Sports, music, clubs, theater – any and all of these offer young people a way to find school worth the time. Help your teen engage in at least one activity that can aid them in seeing why school counts and, not only will they be more successful in school, they will also develop interests and talents that can serve them well throughout life.

Strengthening All Families

Strong families are the first foundation to keeping children safer. Franklin County Children Services is collaborating with several of our community partners and NBC4 to provide families with tips, tools, and strategies that can be used at home. 

Click here to learn more about the YMCA of Central Ohio.


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