Are you a mom to a teenager? Then you know all too well how hard it is to discipline and connect to this strange, emotional, hormonal creature that your child has turned into. We can’t tell them what to do or expect them to follow ‘because I said so.’ So how do we talk to our teen?
Before you talk, listen
It’s crucial to make time to connect with your teen, whether over a snack or over dinner. Tell him you’re there for him. The best way is to offer your driving services: ‘I am free on Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm, who needs a ride?’ Then use that drive to ask him how things are.
You can also find out what your teen is interested in, like books or music, and use that as a jumping off point for a conversation. Maybe you can try learning a hobby or activity together, or at least show respect for what he likes. ‘I don’t know much about that band… what’s your favorite album? Can I listen to it?’ Offer to bring him and his friends to a concert. Sometimes just listening to them talk can give you a good insight on his personality and what’s going on in his life.
Develop their self-esteem
Our first impulse as parents is to nag, reprimand, threaten—we’re so scared that our child will make a mistake or break a rule! But one of the best ways to encourage good behavior (and allay our fears) involves the opposite. We need to enhance their self-worth by praising them when they do something well or make a good decision. Give them pep talks and remind them that, at home, they are loved unconditionally for who they are. This will actually be their best defense against peer pressure and bad relationships. (Read our article on how to boost your teenage daughter’s self-confidence.)
Resist the urge to judge
When your teen opens up, show him that you are listening. Paraphrase: repeat in your own words what your teen is saying. This encourages your teen to say more.
Speak in a respectful manner, no blaming, no put downs, no judgments. Just say your piece, using the ‘I-message’ formula. Instead of ‘You’re obsessed with the web!’ say, ‘I am concerned about the time you put on using Facebook. It can affect your school grades.’
Negotiate house rules
Talk to your teens about rules on dating, driving, allowance, going out with friends, clothes, grades. While you can set some non-negotiables, choose your battles. Your child will be more likely to follow the rules if he feels he has been heard and his needs and concerns have been considered. For example, you may insist that he maintain a certain grade in school, but you don’t have to be as strict about how he cuts his hair or what clothes he wants to wear.
Photo from more4kids.info