Sickle cell disease: How to be a good communicator

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Learn strategies to help you communicate with your teen, including ways to communicate messages more effectively and become a better listener.

Key points

  • When talking to your teen, avoid sending them indirect messages. Instead, use direct statements to clearly express your concerns.
  • Help your teen see things from your point of view by using "I" statements.
  • Plan what you will say before discussing sensitive topics with your teen.
  • Listening to your teen is an important part of good two-way communication and helps build trust and mutual respect. Let your teen know that you are willing to listen, and then show interest in their feelings and opinions.

Communicating with teens can be difficult, but a few different strategies can help. the following tips can help you communicate your message more effectively and become a better listener.

Communicating your message effectively

Be direct

Do not beat around the bush when approaching a topic, and be careful not to send indirect messages. Indirect messages often include subtle threats, which will undermine effective communication.

Less effective communication: "I guess I'm going to have to talk to your teacher about you."

More effective communication: "I am worried about your grades. You have missed a lot of school lately because of your pain." This is a direct statement that clearly expresses your concerns.

Include your perspective and feelings

Help your teen see things from your point of view by using “I” statements.

Less effective communication: "You never help around the house!"

More effective communication: "I get really frustrated when you don't help around the house. I know you don't feel at your best all the time, but I could really use your help cleaning up." This statement explains the impact of your teen’s behaviour, but it is less likely to make them defensive than a heated accusation (the first statement).

Plan what you will say

When broaching touchy subjects, try thinking about what you want to say beforehand. Some common touchy subjects could include your teen’s grades, their friends or how sickle cell disease is impacting their life.

Improving communication through listening

Two-way communication only works if both parties are able to listen to one another.

One of the most important ways to get your teenager to listen to you is to listen to them. Let your teen know that you are willing to just listen, and then practise paying attention to what they are saying and the feelings they are experiencing. Show interest in, and acknowledge, their feelings and opinions even when you disagree or have the urge to take over the conversation.

Sometimes, it is very hard to fight the urge to solve your teen's problems, especially when you think you have the answer. Talking is how teens figure things out. Being there for them and listening to their concerns helps you build trust and mutual respect with them.

Learn to put your teen in the position to solve their own problems by using a statement such as, "How do you think you are going to handle that situation?" or "I'll be interested to hear how you handled that."

Tip: Try to put yourself in your teen's shoes to help you understand their point of view. While you might not agree with them, it will help you empathize with their current difficulties.

How to be a good listener

Here are some tips for improving communication through listening.

Be accessible

Teens often blurt things out or want to talk at inconvenient times. If it really is an inconvenient time for you, set up a specific time to talk about the issue with your teen. For instance, you might say something like, "What you're saying is important to me. Let's discuss it after dinner."

Use questions sparingly

Resist the urge to know everything your teen is thinking or planning. Giving your teen some privacy and space can help them become more independent.

Last updated: March 15th 2024