How to keep your cool in the warmer weather 101
There are three empty glasses on the coffee table and no one is claiming ownership. You have been at work all day so they were not from you. Only your teen has been home but he is not claiming the triumph. You say something about the empties. He shrugs but does not lift his eyes from the tablet/cell phone/laptop/gaming system. Instead, he grunts. You mention dinner and get a similar response—a mere eye roll, and a mumble of something resembling, “whatever”. Is this the same kid who was sad to leave me before summer camp in grade 4?
Why is it so hard to have a conversation with my teen now?
Teens tune us out because it is part of growing up and practicing independence from us. Boldness or rebelliousness is annoying, but is part of raising healthy children. I am referring to everyday regular acts of defiance. The half sentences, lack of eye contact, ignoring, then raised voice responses is part of their assertion of autonomy. Snubbing us is a way to take a stand and have a bit of control. They have known us their whole lives and know how to push out buttons. If we carry on with our point, or find ourselves rambling about a previous or related issue (curfew, dinner, messy room, laundry, dirty dishes, then ignoring), the teen has successfully distracted us and won the power struggle….and we still did not get the teen to behave as we wanted. This is where the logic sounds a bit twisted, but true:
IF the teen acknowledges that they will have to be held accountable if they do not complete that task successfully.
IF they do not hear, they can claim ignorance when you hold the teen responsible later.
So how can you keep your cool AND have a Win –Win outcome for you and your teen?
Power struggles, arguments and indifference can be overcome! If your teen is not using headphones and does not have a hearing or translation difficulty, follow these easy tips below:
- Say your piece clearly—once—and act as if they heard you.
- If you asked that they should be in the house by 10pm and it didn’t happen, simply say, “you know the rules. You did not follow them so there is no going out the next few nights”.
- Leave the room instead of engaging in a power struggle.
- If you feel sure that they heard your direct and neutral statement of the rule, (even if you’re speaking to a teen who is focusing on a social media screen) – hold the teen accountable.
- Don’t take things personally.
- Choose your fights and seriously keep your cool. Remember-rolling eyes and mumbling is probably being executed to annoy you.
- Focus on your goal (relay information about the rule itself and not whether the rule is a good one).
- If the teen says the message was not clear, re-state the rule and offer a solution (hold the sarcasm) to increase listening in the future.
Trouble shooting your way to success:
James Lehman, a parenting expert and author, says that there is no reason to keep engaging with your teen if they’re being verbally abusive (and there is no excuse for abuse). If the matter is escalating and you have not yet learned the skill of fair fighting, start with a simple script such as:
“Don’t talk to me like that. I don’t like it. The rules don’t change just because you yell at me about them” …or say, “I know you disagree with the rules, and you’d rather not listen to me. The truth is, you don’t have to like the rules—you just have to find a way to follow them.”
Therapy sessions offer a terrific way to learn tools and techniques to manage routine and escalating issues in your household, and head-off more serious concerns. Parents and caregivers frequently take advantage of counselling where they can seek the input of a trained professional to assess the seriousness of the situation, and come up with interventions directed toward a solution. Youths can attend sessions with or without the family present. My office offers flexible environments for therapy sessions. They may be held at my office, in your home, or by telephone or video conferencing using Skype. Whatever the situation, feel free to contact me for a complimentary introductory session to assess the situation and recommend counselling options.