Get Better At Communicating With Your Teenager
I hear it all the time, “Oh they are just teenagers, that is how they are. Don’t you remember how you were at that age?”
I do remember how I was at that age and right about now, I don’t know how my parents got through it.
While it might seem that I can’t stop getting my kids to play some pretty tough Self Defeating Games I have managed to find a few tools that are helping me to get better at communicating with my teenagers.
Get Better Tool #1
The first step that I had to take in order to Get Better at communicating with my teenager was to realize that Disagreement Does Not Equal Rejection. At first this concept might be difficult to grasp.
Teenagers can become so defiant that it feels like every engagement leads to rejection. I am a pretty simple guy and I readily admit that this defiant behaviour gets my mercury rising very quickly but when you take a look at the science behind brain development at this important stage of their lives, it becomes a little easier to sympathize with where they are at.
Advancements in brain study now explain that much larger brain development is occurring in teenage years than was first thought. Check out this Ted Talk Video, it helped me understand why we disagree on almost Everything!
Get Better Tool #2
If you want to develop better communication skills period, not just with your teenager, you need to understand that You Teach People How To Treat You.
This becomes very difficult when you get caught up in the moment and frustration of how your teenager might be treating you. You might say, I didn’t teach them that and maybe you didn’t.
When I take a, deeper than on the surface, look at how I treat my teenagers, I have to admit to myself that I engage in the drama far too often. As soon as I do this, I give away all the power and in fact am teaching my children that it is OK to talk to me in a heated, confrontational manner. Frustration always sides with emotion.
I am reminded of an excerpt from the book, “How To Win Friends & Influence People” where he talks about how one creature always knows how to make friends.
Every you time that you see him, he is so excited that he can barely contain himself. He always has a smile and is eager to see you. His greeting is always filled with unconditional love and he will hang out with you all day just to be around you if you let him.
Of course, he was talking about a dog and how easily they make friends but the secret works for humas too. When we are excited to see, greet, interact and be around others, we teach them how to treat us and they want to reciprocate in the same manner.
Granted, the teenage years seem to get a little more difficult, but I believe if we as adults stay true to this tool and continue to take the higher road, teaching this mantra somehow becomes ingrained in their subconscious and in time will become their default behaviour too. That’s what I am going to choose to believe anyways, let me know what you think in the comments below.
Get Better Tool #3
I Acknowledge Your Position … This Is My Position is a tool that works well to defuse frustrated conversations. The power in this tool is that it allows your teenager to exercise these new brain developments and feel the satisfaction of being acknowledged in forming their own opinions as they struggle to define their own identity in the world. By being a great listener and letting them express their opinion, even if it is through a disagreement you are teaching them how to treat you while still affirming that you do not agree with their position.
The best way to put this tool to work in your home, is to have a conversation about it. Sit down with the family and explain that in the future, we have a disagreement we are going to have a conversation about it instead of an argument. If during or at the conclusion of the conversation we can’t agree we are still going to respect one another and use this statement to state our own opinion…I Acknowledge Your Position … This is My Position and go on to explain why you feel the way the you feel. It is important that both the parent and the teenager understand that this disagreement does not equal rejection and that it is possible to hold differing opinions and still get along.
Do you have other tools that are helping you cope with trying circumstances with your teenagers? I would love to hear about them.