I spend a lot of time with my psychotherapy clients focusing on communication. I’m not sure that I’ve ever had a couple come for couples therapy that has NOT brought up “poor communication” as one of the challenges in their marriage. And if we’re honest with ourselves, it isn’t just limited to our marriages. We can struggle to communicate effectively with our kids, our colleagues and bosses, and our friends. Let’s face it: adult women are hardly the masters of saying-what-we-mean-and-meaning-what-we-say. And this is the example and modelling we’re handing down to our kids.
So I’ve made it something of a personal mission to improve the communication of those in my little circle of influence. That includes my clients at my office in Oakville, but it also includes my daughters. If you have a teen or tween girl in your life, check out the book Express Yourself: A Teen Girl’s Guide To Speaking Up And Being Who You Are by Emily Roberts. Written by a therapist who focuses much of her work on teens, it’s a fantastic resource for coaching young women on identifying their thoughts and feelings, knowing how to articulate themselves, and how to navigate the choppy waters of all kinds of communication.
While covering communication basics, including identifying your feelings in a situation and planning your words about your feelings using specific, concrete communication tools, the book also walks readers through typical situations they might find themselves in. If your daughter has ever struggled with an on-again-off-again friendship, not known how to respond to a social media onslaught, or complained that family members just don’t understand her, she’ll get a lot out of this book.
It even has a powerful chapter on romantic relationships, and how to assert yourself with a partner, which I found to be particularly relevant. In a time when so many changes are taking place in their lives, girls (and boys, of course) can wonder if they’re normal or what they “should” be doing relative to what everyone else is doing. This book gives readers the reassurance they need to feel confident and empowered in the kind of private relationship in which they may not have a lot of experience.
If we didn’t have parents who taught us excellent communication skills, then where do we learn how to articulate ourselves and navigate interpersonal challenges and ultimately teach great skills to our children? Express Yourself does a clear, readable job of giving girls the tools they need to be successful and confident in this area. And you might just learn a few things from it yourself!