Verbal and nonverbal communication. They are the substance of relationship in your family. My mama cautioned me, "Mean what you say, and say what you mean." No room for misinterpretation there.
Verbal communication in relationship building gets all the press. Nonverbal communication is often seen merely as the backdrop for verbal communication. However, each is vital and instrumental in creating emotionally healthy relationships. Teens in particular are a jumble of words and actions. If you zoom in on your teen's words, you will miss vital information to help decode what she is trying to say.
Perceptive parents will find themselves noticing disparity between their child's words and actions. "I hear what you are saying, but your actions don't match your words. What else is going on?" For children in general, and for teens in particular, a rule of thumb is to believe everything your child does, and nothing he says. A shuffling gait can mean "I don't want to go." An eye roll or shoulder shrug can mean "Leave me alone." A vacant gaze can mean "All I hear right now is blah, blah, blah. I'm not getting it, or I don't want to."
Children are good at picking up nonverbal cues also. Because kids are the emotional barometer of what's going on in the family, they know what we are feeling long before we know. If your words and actions don't match, watch out.
With advanced computer technology and smart phones, we are smack in the age of Double Speak. Texting short cuts, emoticons, abbreviations all put the English language at risk. Did you know that "0bl8" means "Don't be late"? All of this make it more important for parents to keep up with gadgets, gizmos, and Double Speak. It will all help you relate to your child meaningfully, and also catch them before big trouble when they are testing the limits.
To avoid the pitfalls of Double Speak, mean both what you say and what you do.