Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Empowerment Feature Article: An Unhealthy Lack of Communication

Has the internet caused our teens to be unable to communicate lovingly with one another? Where has all this anger and meanness come from?

    Given the high incidence of bullying and the teen suicide because of bullying, researchers and psychologists are all in agreement that bullying is caused by a fundamental inability to compassionately communicate with each other. This probably occurs because teens are constantly connected and not interacting with one another face-to-face.

    There are things that we can do, as parents, to help our kids and teens to relearn how to interact with one another in loving and non-abusive ways.  Here are a few things you can try to improve communication and compassion when teens and kids interact with one another.

1.    Model proper communication by acting in a loving manner at home. Kids and teens can’t learn proper communication unless we model it in our family and show our teens and kids how to compassionately and respectfully get along with each other. Proper communication can be learned and mastered by watching and mimicking. And teens and kids are mimickers par excellence.

2.    Parents should create a loving and empathic atmosphere at home. One way parents can do this is to instigate a zero tolerance towards verbal abuse among siblings. Some parents don’t believe that there is anything wrong when two siblings go at each other verbally. However, by allowing this kind of negative interaction, parents are permitting abusive behavior in their homes. And this sends kids and teens the message that it is okay to be mean to others.

3.    Model how to lovingly interact within the family. Parents are the leaders in families. Therefore, it is up to parents to model healthy interaction with one other. For instance, the way the parents get along with each other can go a long way towards showing kids and teens how to communicate. Also, the way a parent talks to a child or teen can also send proper or improper messages to the rest of the family. 

4.    Parents should try and engage their family and kids in character development.  Children should be taught how to be kind and compassionate by modelling and reinforcing these traits in the home. Kids should be encouraged to play fair, to love their siblings, and to get along with them.

5.    Set out family guidelines for responsible uses of technology and media in the home. Parents should have family times when no media is allowed to be consumed. This can help parents to teach kids and teens that they can do other things that are more enjoyable than watching television all the time and playing computer games. They can actually spend time doing things together and enjoying each other’s company.

By taking these steps, parents will be working at changing the lax cultural attitudes towards aggression and cruelty one small action and behavioural change at a time. It will take a lot of time and patience to instil these positive habits in our kids. But it is worth it. After all, wouldn’t you like to be able to say that you actually contributed to something positive and made sure that your kids and teens learned some important lessons about character development during their informative years at home? Well, it is possible to make these positive changes and create compassionate and fulfilled adults.

 Irene S. Roth

BIO: Irene Roth is a freelance writer for teens and tweens. She has published over 180 Ezine articles about adolescent self-confidence and self-esteem. When Irene's not writing for adolescents, she loves writing about the psychology of writing and hosting her NEW Blog Talk Radio show, "The Empowerment Show with Irene Roth". Irene is also a graduate of the Institute of Children's Literature.  

Tune-in to her show the 3rd Friday of each month at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/worldofinknetwork

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