Talking with teenagers

Parents, carers and family members are by far the most important influences on their children’s lives. It’s through interaction with parents and other adults that speech and language actually develop and this continues to be true right through a young person’s life.

But in the often challenging adolescent years, it can be hard for parents and young people to really communicate with each other. Moody teenager phase? Out of touch parents? Or is it something else? Could the young person you have difficulty communicating with actually be struggling with the skills needed to communicate well with others?

I CAN have produced a poster to help parents and teachers understand some of the main changes in a young person’s language development in the teenage years. This is a useful resource to check if you are concerned about your child’s development. Download a free pdf copy.

I CAN’s programme Secondary Talk is currently working with 28 schools across the country to help them understand how to be more supportive of communication in the work they do. Even more schools have bought into the programme from January 2012 and we are confident that more still will want to help their pupils communicate more effectively. Find out more about Secondary Talk.

What can we do to help?

There are lots of everyday activities that families can do that will help their secondary aged children’s language development.

  • If you watch TV together why not have a rule once a week that you talk about the programme afterwards? What was the storyline? Was it trying to make a good point? Was it a good / bad programme? Why?
  • Shopping and cooking are excellent for reading, understanding and sequencing events and developing descriptive vocabulary – as well as providing lots of opportunities for talk between parents and children.
  • Young people are often curious about their family history and traditions. Photos and memorabilia from times past can spark questions and chat if they are visible around the house.

Whatever your topic of conversation, download our simple rules to help you get the best out of the opportunity.

The Communication Trust has also produced the guide Universally Speaking which offers parents and teachers more basic information on checking and supporting language development in teenagers. You can download a copy here.

If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, please speak to your local speech and language therapy service who may be able to offer further assessment and advice.