Has a problem, Is experimenting, Is in treatment, Needs a service
Sometimes it can seem as though you are always fighting, arguing or disagreeing with a young person. This can be frustrating for both of you.
Effective communication, learning ways of dealing with and reducing conflict and asking for change can go a long away in helping a young person address drug and alcohol issues and be able to utilise the strengths and support of their in their family.
Here are some useful tips for effective communication:
DON'T BE TOO HARD ON YOURSELF
Even if we are good communicators in other situations, our skills often go out the window in conflict situations. Likewise we can be great with other people but because of the strong emotions involved we can struggle to stay calm when we communicate with our own kids
CHOOSE A GOOD TIME TO TALK
Trying to talk to someone when you or they are already upset is probably not a great idea. We don’t really communicate that well if we are experiencing really strong emotions. Choose a time when you re both calm and when there is time to listen to each other properly.
BE AWARE OF YOUR BODY LANGUAGE
Not all communication is verbal or about the words you use. Gentle tone, soft eye contact and a relaxed body posture promote a relaxed interaction.
PLAN WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO SAY
Rehearse what you want to say and how you will say it.
Use statements that include an “understanding statement”, “a partial responsibility statement”, and “an offer of help”
- An understanding statement – means you understand the needs of the young person
- A partial responsibility statement – indicates you are willing to accept at least part of the responsibility for creating and / or solving the problem.
- An offer of help – which is a direct offer of something that you can do to help solve the problem.
An example of how these types of statements are used is:
“I understand you want to spend more time with your friend Danny and I know I hardly let you go out with him because I am worried he drinks too much. If I speak to Danny’s mum to make sure she’s around maybe you can catch up with him on Thursday night”.
When an ‘understanding statement’, a ‘partial responsibility statement’ and ‘an offer of help’, a young person is more likely to feel that their issues and concerns are understood, and then they are more likely to listen and be open to considering our request.
BE PREPARED FOR DISAGREEMENT
Disagreement doesn’t need to mean conflict or that communication was poor. Even disagreement can strengthen a relationship if a young person sees you understand their point of view.
YoDAA have developed a video guide to support you in communicating your concerns to a young person about drugs for the first time.
Was this helpful? We also recommend a fantastic comprehensive resource called "Strong Bonds". It has been developed by the Jesuit Social Services (a YoDAA Partner). And remember, talk to YoDAA if you are stuck, or just need advice on your next step.