Adolescence is one of the most difficult times for parents to negotiate with their children. This is the beginning of a long journey toward independence. Though this is a very important process that parents want for the healthy development of their children, sometimes parents ask the question…what happened to my sweet little angel who used to tell me everything? If you find yourself at the place where communicating with your teen feels like speaking a foreign language, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
- LISTEN to the small stuff. It’s how we, as parents, earn the right to be trusted with the big stuff.
- LISTEN for the feelings. Summarize what they say and how they might be feeling (even if you have to guess).
- LISTEN, even when it’s difficult. IF you opt for getting upset, telling them what to do, or minimizing their issues, (“don’t let it get to you,” “that’s not such a big deal”), you can expect them to shut down very quickly.
- LISTEN…without judging. Decide if your teen needs to a) just blow off steam, or b) find a solution. If (b), then take the position of asking helpful questions that LEAD your adolescent to find his/her solution. You want them to learn the PROCESS of thinking for themselves.
— The quality of the solution is not as important as the process by which it was reached.
— The only way children learn to solve their own problems is with practice.