On the blog, we often speak from the perspective of the EI professional. Switching up this “voice” a bit is not only fun, but it may help us understand more about the culture of some of our families. The tips I will share are from the millennial parent’s viewpoint in hopes of using their interpretation to help us reach them more effectively. As an Early Intervention professional of 10 years, an Educator to teens and an individual born sandwiched in the middle of the Millennials and the Generation-X’ers, I must say that the two groups communicate completely differently from one another. At times, without proper insight, it can cause a bit of frustration among both groups. Understanding the “why” behind some of the cultural variances is the foundation to building great, impactful relationships. Due to my unique perspective, I’ve noted 11 Things a Millennial Parent Wished a Generation-X EI Provider Knew.
1. Sorry to make you feel uncomfortable but texting me is best. If you want to reach me, text first, email next, call last. I’m more apt to respond.
2. When explaining EI, connect coaching with something that I’m interested in such as sports. It’s more likely to stick.
3. I learn a lot by demonstration. Watching YouTube videos have taught me to watch first then imitate what I see. Use the media to your advantage.
4. Show me child friendly apps to help my little one learn. Because we are often on the phone and tablet, what better way to coach me than to use apps that are readily available.
5. Help me to write goals to include mention of my favorite shows, apps or songs. My little one is often inundated with my culture so barking like a dog because we use the snapchat lens/filter is right up my alley.
6. If you arrive and I’m texting, know that I have mastered multi-tasking. Don’t get offended, I’m not ignoring you.
7. Remind me to put our next appointment in my phone as an alarm or reminder. Writing on the back of a card or on a piece of paper is so outdated.
8. I’m very relaxed so coming in with suits may make me feel uncomfortable. It will be harder to build a coaching relationship with you because now I look at you as an authority figure. Relax, I’ll receive you better this way.
9. Video me suggestions or even send me website or app links like this one from the CDC . I’m sure to use them. It’s even fun to engage me with one during our session. Coaching me this way is fun. I look at visual apps all day so this is definitely speaking my language.
10. If I send you a social media request, take it as a compliment. I must really like you. Don’t ignore it because it effects rapport. Instead let me know your policy. I’ll understand.
11. My communication is often short and to the point. It doesn’t mean I’m not engaged or interested in our dialogue but texting has taught me not to participate in much small talk.
I hope this blog post helps all of us understand Millennials and how they communicate. Let me know if you believe these tips were helpful. If you have any other advice to add from the perspective of a Millennial or you’ve provided services to this generation and believe you have some great information to share, I want to hear from you! Share your thoughts below!
Tier-ra Henry is a spunky millennial who has provided Developmental Services with ITC of Hampton-Newport News for 7 1/2 years. She got her start as a Service Coordinator with Norfolk ITC but after drooling over the fun, creative things the therapist did with the kiddos, she made a switch to serve her hometown with more direct services. She is the mother of an AMAZING 11 year old up-and-coming actress. You can find Tier-ra in the city with her trendy clothes, serving her community and building a strong rapport with families while making learning super fun. In her spare time she is a Personal Stylist. She is a strong advocate for families and believes her job as a Developmental Service Provider allows her to use her heart for social justice and creativity to serve children. She holds a Bachelors of Social Work degree from Norfolk State University.
Glad you enjoyed it!
Great piece!! As a baby boomer and/ or Generation X, I find this information very helpful! I do believe depending on your age, there are significant differences in the way we interact and communicate.
Please keep posting helpful hints to assist with keeping this type of dialogue open.
Thank you Dorine! Differences can hinder or promote growth. I believe the key is understanding. Thanks for your comment.
This post presents a necessary conversation for social service providers and educators who teach children with special needs. Any educator worth her salt desires to build and maintain healthy partnerships with parents. However, common characteristics demonstrated by this generation may be viewed as indifference. Educators, especially those less familiar with these mods of communication, must be willing to adapt to these cultural changes for the benefit of students.
Thanks for providing such valuable insight!
You are exactly right. It seems you understand some of these cultural challenges. Thanks for your input.
Good info, but one note on this: Text is NOT HIPAA protected, so our office has parents sign a permission to text form at the initial visit with explanation to parents that the therapist will never put the child’s name in a text. We say something like “next visit is Tues at 10am.” Something to think about as a privacy precaution.
Absolutely love this reminder! We do the same at our office. A release of info as well as checking the box on their IFSP that this is one of their preferred ways of contact. Thanks Mary Kay!
That’s a great point, Mary Kay. Practitioners should always check with their agencies about texting and emailing first. There are agencies in VA where these types of communication are just not permitted.
As a Baby Boomer and parent to 3 Millennials, I have learned to communicate by text and social media. I have had good relationships with my Early Intervention families through use of text. I do keep my Facebook posts for my personal life and not for EI families, and they understand.
Thanks for the reminder to make use of apps and You Tube! It will help families find and use important developmental info!
Thanks Betsy! Kudos to you on meeting clients where they are. I believe apps and etc. really help our parents become more proactive in learning how to help their little ones. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for the reminders, texting comes easy for me, but using apps for learning at this age is a difficult one, with all the research on blue screen time and reducing usage for this age group, it’s hard for me to suggest using them with the babies. I do agree that having families watch you tube or even videos of themselves is beneficial for both learning insights and reflection.
Definitely agree! Thanks for that very important reminder Jennifer! It is a thin line we have to walk. Coaching makes it easy because we are lead by the families wants and desires while not keeping them unaware of any dangers they may present . I often encourage families to interact with their kiddo with the use of the app. We make a session of it especially if the family is using them in their free time. There was a link of apps sent out a couple years ago that gave a great list of apps for children with speech delays. If I can find it, I’ll list the link below! Thanks for your input!