Well-developed communication skills are essential skills for postsecondary academic pursuits and your teen's future career. They're also essential to making it easier to interact with friends and other peers. Start early by using a variety of games and simple activities to help your teen get comfortable with communicating and working on effective communication in a variety of different situations.
Encourage your teens to develop their communication and critical thinking skills at the same time. Divide your group into teams of three to four teens. Show one member of the group the name of an object, such as a DVD player, television, car, birthday cake or eye shadow. Now, that group member must try to describe the object to their group without using the name of the object. It will require teens to use their creativity and effective communication skills to help their team members guess correctly. You can allow the teams to keep guessing until they’ve figured out the object, allow a maximum of three guesses or allot a particular amount of time to the game. When the teens are done, have them play another descriptive game. This time, give them the name of an object and figure out how they would describe it to someone who has never heard of or seen it before.
Have your teen and her group act out a variety of scenarios to practice their communication skills in different situations. You can divide a large group into smaller groups of three to four teens, or make the activity a little more challenging by having a large group work together. Try out scenarios, such as dealing with a difficult consumer in a store, selling a brand new product or giving friend advice to a younger sibling. Let each group perform to help them with their public speaking skills. Alternatively, you can emphasize the importance of communication by taking it away and having small groups try to act out scenarios without using words. Assign each group a scenario, such as going to the store to buy a new dress, packing a suitcase for a vacation to Hawaii or babysitting a group of rowdy youngsters. Give each group a few minutes to discuss their strategy and rehearse and then act out the skit for the whole group to see how effectively they can communicate without words.
Truths and Fibs
Help your teen learn to communicate comfortably in front of a group with an entertaining truth or lie game. Have your teen stand in front of her group of friends and come up with several true and false facts about her life. She can talk about the best birthday party she ever had, a vacation that she never actually took or her career goals for the future -- whether they’re true or false. Have the group try to figure out whether each story is true or false, using body language as a clue to the correct answer. Have each teen take a turn at relaying facts and concocting stories. You can also play an interrogation or interview game. Have one teen stand center stage and let the group pose questions. The interviewee can then answer the questions truthfully or with a lie, and the interviewers must guess which one.
Play an icebreaker game that will have the teens too busy to feel uncomfortable at a group event and flexing their communication skills as well. Set up a variety of “stations” with a pair of comfortable beanbag chairs or cushions at each one. Have half of your group sit down at a different station. Now, similar to a speed-dating event, have the remainder of the group sit across from the first group with pens and paper. Give the second half of the group one minute to learn one or two interesting facts about the teens sitting with them and then have the second half of the group rotate to the next station and repeat the activity. When the rotation is complete, switch roles and have the first half learn interesting facts about the second half in the same manner. If you have a small group, have the teens sit in a circle with one teen in the center. Each teen forming the circle has one minute to learn an interesting fact about the center teen.