Last week I was at an event and got to talking to a few of the moms who were at my table. We got onto the topic of parenting and each one had the same frustration “What do I do when I have tried everything and nothing is working when it comes to my high school student taking responsibility for their performance at school?”
It is terrible to feel as though you have no tools left in your toolbox. There are a couple of simple communication skills that you can try to stop the cycle of fighting and start the cycle of helpful, effective change.
To make it easy I have filmed a five minute Youtube video talking you through these four steps steps:
1. Stop using the “Problem Area” and start using the “No Problem Area” to make time for a productive conversation instead of a heated argument. Anyone ever taught a drowning person how to swim? No, you throw them a life jacket and think about solving the larger problem later. The same goes for recurring behavior that we find unacceptable with our children. Nothing is going to get solved in the heat of the moment.
2. At a mutually convenient time when you are both calm make time to speak about what is bothering you. Forget about your teen for the moment and state the problem that YOU have with the current situation. How do you feel about what is going on? What impact is the situation having on you? Share that information with them.
3. Now for the hard part, LISTEN to their response. I know you think you are listening but I can guarantee that you aren’t. Most likely you are responding with one of the 12 Communication Roadblocks we so often respond with. Really listen and most importantly hear what your teen shares with you. What do you now know about the situation that you didn’t before? Share that with them and then listen again, and maybe even again. Listen and share back your understanding until you feel that you are at the heart of what is really going on.
4. At that point, problem solve with your teen. Ask for their input on what would help.
Think about how you would approach a situation at work that was not going according to plan; chances are that you would problem solve with those around you. Brainstorming together to find a workable solution, coming back to the drawing board as needed to tweak things until you got it just right.
The same approach works at home with our children. It is especially helpful with the teens in our lives because they feel engaged, empowered and listened to. It is possible to have thriving relationships with the tweens and teens in our lives, as parents we just need to learn a few simple skills that make this possible and the rest magically falls into place.
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