A Few Simple Yet Effective Communication Techniques with Children and Adolescents

by Kathleen Krol, MSS, LCSW, RPT-S
Merriam-Webster defines communication as “the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to exchange information or to express ideas, thoughts, and feelings to someone else.” When we are communicating well, both parties walk away with the same understanding from the conversation. However, many times we may find ourselves working to express ourselves but not feeling heard – and hearing another person talking without really comprehending what it is they are trying to say.  

Clear communication can be lost along the way when we are busy and caught up in the daily in and out of our routines. For adults interacting with children, there are added complexities. What follows are some strategies for communicating effectively with young people.

Sometimes just changing the words you use or how you say them can make a small but significant change in your interaction with your children.  Praise and positive reinforcement for what your child is doing well are usually more effective than emphasizing what your child is doing wrong. Try to avoid negatively phrased words such as “CAN’T,” as in “You can’t do that!”   The child hears the negative “can’t” and may respond defensively by acting out. Instead, give choices and alternatives when directing your child to stop certain behaviors: “Your ball is for playing with outside.” “What do you want to play with instead: your trucks or your dollhouse?”

Children often have problems with sense of time and their need for immediate gratification. 

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Kathleen Krol is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor, who works with children, adolescents and families.  For a free consultation to learn more about any of these treatment approaches, please contact Kathleen at 215-289-3101 or kasiakrol17@verizon.net. You can also learn more at www.KathleenKrol.com

Meeting the Self-Critic with Compassion

by Elizabeth Venart

Even during a simple conversation between two people, the words said aloud exist on one level while simultaneously entire dialogues play out in each individual’s mind. This is why a seemingly innocent request like, “Please pass the butter,” can spark an argument. The new Pixar film, “Inside Out,” gives life to the concept that, while we have one unified self, we are made up of many parts, parts with different needs and emotions. As we face various choices in our daily lives, our parts may be in agreement or in conflict with one another. Thus the well-known term “inner conflict,” which, for example, happens when one part of us feels enthusiastic about going out to see friends but another part is exhausted and yearns to stay home and read a book.

Most people are familiar with the “Inner Critic” part within them. Some hear this critical voice occasionally, while others hear it nearly constantly. It may comment on our appearance, our performance, how productive we are being, and it can even make us second-guess everything we say in conversations with others. These negative internal messages can greatly influence how we feel and how we behave in our relationships. . . .Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy suggests we bring compassion and curiosity to all parts of Self, including the inner critic.

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Learn more about IFS

About Elizabeth Venart

In addition to being the Director of The Resiliency Center, I am a Licensed Professional Counselor who integrates mindfulness, EMDR, and Internal Family Systems into my work with individuals and couples. I love partnering with people to cultivate greater compassion and joy. Learn more at elizabethvenart.com or by contacting me at 215-233-2002 or elizabeth@elizabethvenart.com.

Your Body is Your Einstein

by Brittiney George, BS, CRS, CEIM
“Emotional expression, touch expression and verbal expression are all connected neurologically, forming the psychobiology of our intelligence, our communication and our adaptability. Touch and emotional expression share the same brain function, just as fine motor movements of the fingers and thumb share the same neural real estate in the motor cortex with the fine motor movements of the mouth that produce speech” Greenfield, Susan. (1997). The Human Brain: A Guided Tour.
So what does that mean? It means your body is more than a vehicle to move you place to place, it is full of wisdom and connections that allow for adaptability and resilience. 
  • Your Body is Smart: “The Electromagnetic current of the heart is 60 times higher in amplitude than the field of the brain.  It also emits an energy field 5,000 times stronger than the brain’s, one that can be measured more than 10 feet from the body.” –Dr. Mimi Guarneri, Cardiologist and author of The Heart Speaks.
  • Your Body is the expert on you: “Each heart beat sends complex signals capable of reaching higher brain centers, ultimately affecting our reasoning and choices, our emotions and perceptions.  Apparently, the heart has not only its own language, but its own mind.” –Dr. J Andrew Armour explaining his concept of a functioning “heart brain”.
  • There is a universe inside you waiting to be discovered: “There is more to you than you realize.  The body contains the knowledge and resources you need.  What would happen if you explored your body with wonder and curiosity instead of judgment?  Oh, the treasures and wisdom you’d find!”
To learn more about how Rubenfeld Synergy can help you listen to the wisdom of your body as it communicates with you throughout your daily life, contact Movement Practitioner Brittiney George, at 610-389-7866 or movebackintolife@gmail.com

Featured Programs on Communication

Teen Girls Yoga and Self-Care Class

This 'no experience necessary' class integrates yoga, relaxation skills, and confidence building tools for teen girls.  Creating a supportive self-care routine can be very helpful with today’s social pressures and daily demands.  The class includes strategies for greater assertiveness and ways to foster a kinder inner dialogue. Let's explore ways to feel empowered and meet your personal goals!

To register or for more info please contact John Muraco, Licensed Professional Counselor and certified yoga teacher, by email at john@heartwellhouse.com or call 315-329-9838.

Tween Therapy Group

Tuesday 7/14, 5-6:30 pm & Tuesday 8/11, 5-6:30 pm

Learning tools for relaxation, self-expression, and effective communication, this educational support group will be held twice in the summer with the potential to continue as a weekly group in the fall.  Ideal for middle school teens, ages 11 through 14, who are experiencing social issues, depression, anxiety, difficulty expressing feelings, or low self-esteem.

With the support of peers and the guidance of Licensed Professional Counselor Elizabeth Campbell, tweens will gain greater confidence and self-compassion. Please call 610- 757-8163 or email elizabethannecampbell8@gmail.com for more information, cost and registration.

“I Know What to Do with My Feelings”

Sundays, 11 am – 12 pm, Beginning this Fall

A series of 4 workshops for ages 4-9 years to learn relaxation and communication skills they can use at home to express their emotions and calm anxiety. Activities include fun yoga, breathing, art, and movement activities. Space is limited.  

If interested, call Kathy Krol, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Registered Play Therapist at 215-289-3101 or kasiakrol17@verizon.net for more information, cost and registration.
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July Classes and Events

Learn more about all of our offerings – and how to RSVP – by clicking on the program title on our online calendar or following the links below. 

Celebrating Qi Gong

Sunday, July 12

Practice and Dance Qi Gong with Karen Steinbrecher at 2pm at Amber Borough Park.
Ambler Borough Park is located at the intersection of Hendricks St. and ValleyBrook Road. Walk down the steps at the Ambler Borough Park sign to the lovely secluded area with a creek.


Laughter Yoga

Monthly on Mondays
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Sound Meditation and Relaxation Experience

Every other Sunday at 7pm
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Yoga and Music for Inner Harmony

Weekly on Mondays
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Rumi and Hafiz Poetry Evening

Monthly on Wednesdays
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Rest, Restore, and Move Class

Every other Tuesday
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EMDR Consultation Group

Monthly on Fridays
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New Moms Group

Monthly on Wednesdays

Youth and Tween Peer Group Therapy

2 Wednesdays per month

Interstitial Cystitis/Pelvic Pain Support Group

Monthly on Wednesdays

Teen Group Therapy Circle

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The Philadelphia Writer’s Workshop

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Drum to Your Hearts Desire!

Every other Friday at 7:30 pm


Morning Meditation

Mondays at 8:30 am

Evening Meditation

Thursdays at 7:30 pm

Qi Gong Classes 

Thursdays at 2 and 6:15 pm

Knitting Circle

Monthly on Saturdays
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Resources on Communication


Effective Communication: helpguide.org

Improving Family Communications: Healthy Children.org

Communication Skills for you and your family

Relationship Communication Test

How Can We Communicate Better?


Some favorite books on communication can be found on our Amazon bookstore. These include communication between parents and children, between partners, and with oneself. 

Quotes of the Month

“Deep listening is miraculous for both listener and speaker. When someone receives us with open- hearted, non-judging, intensely interested listening, our spirits expand.”
- Sue Patton Thoele

"We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
- Epictetus

“Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable. You will learn this from my words and actions – the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I treat myself.”  
- Brene Brown
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