Relationships become increasingly important for young people as they develop from kids into young adults. It is developmentally appropriate for young people to seek more independence from their families and spend more time with their peers. They also might find that friendships change, with some becoming more intense and others potentially fizzing out. These changes can be stressful and confusing for young people. It’s important that they understand that these changes are normal and that communication can help them navigate changes in their relationships.
Communication is an important part of a healthy relationship. Parents and caregivers can help young people develop good communication skills by modeling effective communication, practicing healthy communication skills with young people and talking with them about how best to communicate honestly and respectfully. As young people’s relationships with friends and eventually romantic partners begin to evolve, it’s important that they learn and practice how to communicate with a partner about how they feel, what they need, what they believe and what they want in an open and honest way. It is equally important that young people learn how to listen and understand a friend or partner’s feelings, needs, beliefs and desires with the same respect they expect from them.
Effective communication is the foundation of healthy relationships, and your child is already learning and practicing these skills in friendships and will eventually use them in dating relationships. As a parent, being familiar with what healthy communication is and talking to your child about it can help your child feel more comfortable practicing good communication skills.
The easiest way to start conversations about communication is to talk about it as it comes up in everyday life, like while watching a show or movie together.
Here are some ways to start these conversations: