Text Your Teen 4 Better Communication

The Generation Gap, they used to call it. Now it’s the technology gap that is foiling parents in their attempts to maintain lines of communication with their tweens and teens. Have no fear, moms and dads, text messaging is here to save the day, or at least make it a little less stressful. And it’s easier than you think. (Texting, text messaging, instant messaging and IM’ing are all the same thing, although instant messaging or, IM’ing for short, are usually used for computer conversations, not cell phones.)

If you’re reading this, you’re likely comfortable sending e-mails. Well, texting is very similar, but the idea is to keep the messages very short and to the point. To that end, a new form of spelling made up of acronyms and other shorthand references are used. It’s really old school if you think about it. Do you remember the rhebus, where letters and symbols were combined to create a “secret” message? Will U B mine, valentine? Well, that’s basically what texting is all about.

Text Messaging

Texting is great for those times when you need to get a message across but a ringing phone is too intrusive. Let’s say your teen is at the movies but you’re running late to pick them up. You just send a brief message letting them know you’ll be x number of minutes late and they won’t be fretting and fuming (as much) when you get there. Likewise, if you’re in an important meeting, you can keep your phone on vibrate, and read a message and respond without a big interruption. It’s also great when you don’t want to have a big argument about your message or when your child is with friends and you want to communicate with them discretely (they appreciate that!)

Here are some of the basics:

First, any letter or number that sounds like a word can be used as that word – 4 example, u 2 can b a text wizard n no time. R u getting my meaning? Do u c what I m saying? It’s just a way of saving time, a big plus when your phone does not have a full keyboard (which is highly recommended, btw – oh, that’s short for “by the way.”)

Continue learning more about the language of text messaging including using acronyms and "secret codes" >>

Sleep Patterns and Behavioral/Emotional Problems in Adolescents

Is your teen an early bird or a night owl? While some of our tendency to be a morning person or a night person seems to be innate, recent research indicates that those teens that are night owls have more problems with behavioral/emotional problems and risky behaviors such as substance use.

Sleep and wakefulness are part of our circadian rhythms, an internal body clock that regulates a 24-hour cycle of biological processes in animals and plants. While we tend toward “morningness” (wake up easily, perform best in the morning) or “eveningness” (wake up slowly, perform best in the afternoon and evening), our sleep cycles can be thrown off by external events. Adolescents in general tend to gravitate toward eveningness as bedtimes are delayed due to activities, events and homework. Combined with an early rising time due to school demands, this sleep disruption can result in morning and daytime sleepiness, moodiness and use of caffeinated products in order to stay awake.

Sleeping in and napping on the weekends to compensate for shorter weekday sleep time can further reinforce eveningness in teens.

What to do? While some amount of eveningness is unavoidable, parents should encourage teens to follow a regular sleep schedule, allowing for 81/2-9 hours of sleep per night. Rising time should be similar each day, including weekend days, and caffeinated products should be avoided, especially in the afternoons and evenings. While this may be difficult to enforce, it’s important that your child know that he will perform better in schoolwork and sports, as well as enjoy healthier relationships with others with the right amount of sleep.