Tips on How to Talk to Young People

Higgs boson event

By Paul Langhorst       July 30, 2012

Talking with young people these days can be a challenge, with the first obstacle getting them to look up from their smartphone and at you. Once that is accomplished, you had better be ready because the attention span and interest level of a young person these days is about the same length as a Higgs-boson particle – the so-called, “God particle,” a

Higgs-Boson Event

sub-atomic particle whose lifespan is so short its existence can only be inferred by observing the interaction of particles around it.(In other words, you can only tell if young person was listening by observing what they did as a result of your talk!)

At the Missouri Safe Schools & Colleges Conference, the Missouri Department of Mental Health gave a workshop that included a brief overview on how to communicate with young people. Here are the tips presented

by Patsy Carter, Director of Children’s Clinical Services.

  • Be genuine
  • Be careful about using slang
  • Be comfortable with silence
  • Be adaptable
  • Be in the present – don’t talk about when you were a kid!
  • Be respectful, realize that young people’s feelings are real
  • Be accepting, rather than asking for an explanation or making accusations
  • Be aware of negative body language
  • Be helpful with language, without telling them how you feel.

Learn more on how to talk with young people, as well as, the warning signs for suicide and other mental health problems, by visiting the Missouri Dept. of Mental Health – (or the agency in your state.) You will be pleasantly surprised at the wealth of information.

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