“The Look” from Your Teenager
Do you ever get “the look” from your teenager? You know the one I am talking about—the teen angst and disgust mixed with rolling of the eyes. You have something vitally important to say! They need to know this for their future! But you can’t get out of the starting gate. No one is listening. The information that you hold is valuable. Your teen would no doubt benefit from hearing what you have to say. The one barrier is… the delivery.
Although no one enjoys being lectured, this is especially true for teenagers. As humans, we naturally throw up a guard when anyone says, “You need to….” So what can you do to convey your message without lecturing?
The Power of Your Example
First, show them. You model behaviors and actions to your children every day. If you manage your frustrations appropriately when upset, over time, they will learn the same skill. To paraphrase a famous saying, “teach your children always; use words if necessary.”
Admit Your Imperfections
Second, don’t be afraid to admit that you are not perfect. We all have bad days and do and say things we regret. Own it and talk to them about it. Your teenager will learn that it is ok to make mistakes and will also learn how to continue forward and learn from their experiences.
Ignite Responsibility in Your Teen
Third, ignite responsibility by encouraging your teenager to take the lead in an activity. Let them do things. Let them fail. Let them do things again. Maybe they can cook dinner one night. Maybe they can try something that makes them stretch a bit.
Fourth, make sure there is a place to talk. If a direct approach to conversation isn’t working, try talking about the subject-matter indirectly. For example, tell them about a time when you had your feelings hurt and how you managed your emotions at the time. This can have several benefits: it may help your teen to feel less alone, or if they feel like you’re clueless, it provides an opportunity for you to see things from their perspective (don’t get defensive, parents—stay curious).
Modeling and indirect teaching can help take the negative focus and pressure off a teenager and help you convey the important messages they need to hear!
Don’t Give Up!
Lastly, don’t give up. Even if they don’t show it, your teenager wants and needs your attention, your acceptance, your advice, and even your discipline. They just don’t show it all the time!
What have you learned about effective ways to get through to your teenager? We’d love to hear your comments below!
If you find yourself in need of extra help in addressing things with your teen, call us today! 720-468-0101. Several of our counselors specialize in family therapy with teens and their parents.