Tag Archive for: Communication with Teens

6 Things You Can Do When Your Teens Don’t Listen

Do you ever feel stuck with your kids?  Are you tired of hounding them to do something only to find that you have become the barbaric person you swore you would never be?  The volume in the room raises, your voice takes on a gruff “I mean it” tone, your hands are on your hips in a power stance, and then you start with the ultimatums.  “If you don’t take care of this right now I’m taking away your phone for a month.”  By this time you are practically screaming at your kid and most likely he is screaming back.

You get the picture.

Or, maybe a slightly different scenario plays out in your home.  You tell your kid to do something.

Nothing happens.

You repeat yourself and nothing happens.

This goes on for several days and you do one of two things.  You either take care of it yourself or you choose to drop it — and life goes on as if nothing happened.  You’ve chosen to not fight the battle because it is too hard, your tired of it, and you aren’t getting anywhere anyway so why bother.

Either outcome is a losing proposition.  Loss for you and loss for your child.  Both can significantly damage your relationship.

In the first scenario, we lose credibility as an adult.  After all, we certainly aren’t acting like an adult who is in control of our emotions and at times our words.  What we are modeling for our kids is that when I don’t get what I want I’ll get angry and exercise my authority over you to get it.  I’ll take the things away that you love and hopefully you’ll realize that you have nothing and will start doing what I ask you to do.  In other words, we exercise control and they respond out of fear.

In the second story-line, we also lose credibility as an adult but in a different way.  We teach our kids that they can manipulate us and our words mean nothing.  We give them all the power because it’s just easier to throw in the towel to keep peace.  The real problem here is that our kids don’t learn to do the chore or follow through with responsibility.  They don’t learn to own what is theirs to own.

I don’t know about you but I’ve found myself in both of these situations from time to time.  Think of these scenes as two extremes on a pendulum.  One extreme is “I will control at all cost and you will do what I ask you to do or else”.  The other extreme is “I’m tired of the fight and I recognize that you have more stamina than I do so I give up.”.

So what are the ways we can get beyond these extremes?  How can we move toward a home where we don’t have these standoff escapades that damage the relationship?  After all, we do want influence over our kids.

Start with respect.  Respect for yourself and respect for your teen.

So what does that look like?

  1. Focus on the relationship before the problem.  Talk about the issue with a win/win mentality.  Make sure that your child understands that you are both on the same team.  You aren’t asking them to clean up their room for you.  You are asking them to clean up the room for themselves and for the good of “team family”.  One way to start the conversation might go like this:  “It won’t be long until you’ll be on your own.  One of my jobs as a parent is to help you become successful in the role of an adult.  You want that too don’t you?”  Camp out here for a little while.  Maybe find out what they think being an adult means.  Rather than launching into the fact that they need to keep their room clean, you say something like “Why don’t you and I take some time to think about what taking on a more adult role in this family might look like and let’s talk about it next week.  One of the things I see with adults is that they have responsibility but they also get freedom with that responsibility.  What might  that look like as you think about the next few years you have here at home?  Maybe we’ll go out for ice cream next week to talk about it.  Would you like that?”
  2. Apologize and admit your struggle in being a parent.  If you’ve been a pendulum swinger (like the two scenarios I mentioned), apologize.  We don’t always get it right.  After all, we didn’t get a parenting manual when our kids were born.  We didn’t know what we didn’t know and now its time to push the reset button in how we’ve approached parenting.  Let your teen know that you are learning some new skills and that you want to try to be better at respecting them.  Let them know that you want to work harder at helping them become adults.
  3. Listen and validate.  My guess is that if you go get that ice cream with your teen you’ll hear all about the “freedom” your kid wants and very little of the responsibility.  That’s okay!  Just listen, validate their ideas and desires, share stories of when you were their age and wanted those same freedoms.  Again, camp out in their world of talk about adulthood.  AND be sure to not use the word “but” while they are talking.  As parents we often want to discount what they say or make them realize that their ideas are not where we are.  “But” says I’m not listening.  “But” says I’m right and you are wrong.  “But” says I don’t respect your ideas.
  4. Ask permission to share how you see adulthood.  Here’s your chance to finally communicate what you need from your child.  If you need them to clean their room, then let them know why that skill is important in becoming an adult.  Here are a few things you might want to share:  adulthood means that they can take care of themselves and own what is theirs to own; it means that they are part of the team that needs to be responsible for their chores (by the way, if Dad isn’t pitching in somewhere this might be a tough sell).  It means when they move to college that they aren’t fighting with their roommate over the mess they’ve made.  It means when they get married they don’t expect their spouse to pick up after them.  This is their practice time for the future.
  5. Get buy in.  Help your teen understand that with responsibility comes freedom.  This is the part they will love.  What freedom are they trying to earn? (You probably heard all about it while you were listening to them talk.)  If it is something you can give in response to them doing their chores, offer it up.  In the room example say something like, “If I see that you are taking responsibility over keeping your room clean, maybe we’ll look at letting you have some friends over on Friday nights to play games (or whatever freedom you want to give).  Let’s give it a month or so and see what happens.  It’s September now.  If by mid-November you are keeping up your end of the bargain, come see me and we’ll talk about it.”
  6. Pay attention.  The hard part of parenting is sometimes taking notice and giving feedback in the interim phase.  Give them a high-five when you notice their room is picked up or tell them “good job” on the room.  If the room isn’t clean say something like, “I see you are struggling with keeping your room clean, what can I do to help you be successful?”  This communicates “I’m here for you.  I’m on your team.  We both want the same thing–mature adult.”  If they are successful over time, be sure to give them their freedom.  If not, don’t let them off the hook.  Set up another time-bound opportunity and tell them you’ll re-evaluate again in a month.  Remember, the goal is their success!

2 Timothy 1:7

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Dare you to look at how you act when your kids don’t follow through on your requests.  If you are reacting at either extreme of the pendulum, try responding with respect for you and your teen.  Give freedom for your kid’s success in handling responsibility.  If you do, maturity will emerge and there’ll be less frustration as you parent.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Want to learn more about communicating with respect with your tweens and teens?  Grab a group of moms and go through our book With All Due Respect:  40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship with Your Teens & Tweens or give the book as a Christmas gift to you child’s teacher.    Here’s what one mom had to say about it.

Debbie Hitchcock & Nina Roesner, I cannot thank you enough for With All Due Respect! I have decided you guys need a new target market—TEACHERS of Tweens/Teens. The teachers that don’t know how to properly communicate to teens are making it very difficult for this mama.

 

 

It’s All YOUR Fault!

I wish I had a quarter for every time I’ve heard my kids say “It’s all YOUR fault!”  Whether the words are directed at me or someone else doesn’t matter.  The truth is, I’d have quite a stack of coins. Read more

The Respect Dare – Dare 22 – To Do or Not to Do? For Parents of Tweens & Teens

 

Rhonda caught herself doing it again. Frustrated, yet ready for the respite of a quiet house until her 14 year old returned from school, Rhonda began counting her blessings as she began to pick up the trail of clutter.

  1. Ashlee is doing well in school. Thank you, Lord!
  2. Ashlee has a great group of friends, very much a blessing.
  3. Ashlee is growing up to be a compassionate person. It was awesome to watch her interact with Aunt Martha last week.
  4. I won’t have her home for many more years, so I need to be thankful for our time no matter how frustrating.

And the blessing list continued…

As Rhonda continued in the kitchen, she found herself pausing. “Lord, I know that Ashlee is a blessing, but sometimes she can also be downright frustrating!” She laughed as she said it. Ashlee had raced out the door again this morning tearing through the house like a tornado. Picking up cushions from the couch where she had done last night’s homework, she left everything she had touched wherever it fell, any place except where it should be.

“Found it, Mom. I’m sorry to leave you with the mess,” she shouted as she ran toward the door. “I’ll pick it up this afternoon when I get home.”

“Right,” Rhonda thought. “And when my Bible Study group shows up this morning, I’ll just tell them to sit wherever they can find a cushion or wherever there aren’t popcorn kernels from last night.”

“Lord, she is such a good girl and I know she has a lot on her plate with school and her after school activities. Is this my role as a parent to pick up after her all the time? I love her so much that I would do absolutely anything for her. I might not always do it without complaining”, she chuckled again. “But I would do anything for her. Show me the way, Lord. Either change my attitude and frustration or give me a different direction.”

As Rhonda continued to tidy the house for her group who would arrive in an hour, she felt God’s gentle nudge. “Rhonda, I want you to count the blessings I have given you, but I also want you to teach Ashlee how to take care of herself and others.”

“Hmm….”

“What was it they taught us in Generations? Tweens and Teens need life balance. When their issues start impacting our daily life, they need a reminder that their behavior is not leading to independence.”

“Thanks, Lord. I needed that today.”

As Rhonda pulled into the driveway from picking Ashlee up from soccer practice, she suggested that they spend a few minutes talking over a snack. “Sure, Mom.”

“Ashlee, I want you to know that I really am proud of the way you are maturing. You had such a gentle spirit with Aunt Martha last week. I loved watching the two of you interact.

“Thanks, Mom.”

“You know that your dad and I want to teach you all the skills you’ll need to be fully independent one day, don’t you? As Ashlee shook her head in agreement between bites of trail mix, Rhonda continued, “It occurred to me this morning that you are starting to develop a habit that is something that I think will not only impact you in the future, but it is impacting me right now. This is the third week in a row that you’ve had several mornings where you’ve ransacked the house in the morning before you went to school.”

“I know, Mom. I’m sorry. It’s just that I don’t want to be late for the bus. I don’t want you to have to drive me to school.”

“I appreciate that, Ashlee. But you are leaving me with a mess just about every morning these days. We need to find a way to change that.”

“Mom, I’ve told you I will clean it up as soon as I get home, but by the time I get here you’ve already done it. You really can save it for me.”

“Ashlee, I live in this house too. I have friends that stop by during the day while you are gone. I like to sit on the couch for my quiet time. Do you really think I can enjoy my time with God if I have to look at the mess all around me?”

“I’ve been thinking about this and I think the problem is that you’ve not gathered your things together for school the night before. Starting now, I want you to work hard at picking up snacks or whatever you’ve left in the family room the night before. To help you remember, I’m letting you know that if it happens again, there will be a consequence.”

“A consequence? You’ve got to be kidding!”

“Ashlee, the consequence is intended to be a reminder to help you not forget the rule the next time. Just know that from here on out, there will be no more morning tornado through the house. I know that it might seem harsh, but our job as parents is to help you become a balanced adult. I just don’t want you to always be stressed out and develop the habit of always being in a rush. I know that’s what you want as well. Keep the family room picked up in the evenings and there won’t be a problem. I love you, Ashlee. I know you’ll do better. I’m more than willing to give you a gentle reminder in the evening if that will help.”

“Okay, Mom. I’ll try to do better. Maybe if I put a note on my bathroom mirror, I won’t forget.”

“Great idea, honey!”

Living in a hurried world, sometimes as parents we allow our tweens and teens to fall into bad habits that impact us. Rather than try to teach them good habits, we bail them out because it makes us feel better.

Colossians 3:2

 And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.

Dare you to find something that needs to change in your teen’s life and encourage better self-discipline. Just be sure to let them know you are helping them gain independence.

“Let go…and let God,”


Hope you will join Nina Roesner as she provides insight on marriage and Leah Heffner as she blogs to wives with little people as we go through The Respect Dare together.

 

 


The Respect Dare – Dare 17 – This is Scary Stuff! – For Parents of Tweens & Teens

Sitting in the Generations Class, Felicia had her homework assignment. She just didn’t know how comfortable she felt doing it. Ask my 12 and 15 year old to give me feedback on how I react to them during the day…especially in times of conflict? She just knew it was certainly going to be a time of frustration for her. She was worried that she might not hold up under the pressure of all the negative feedback she was sure to get from her kids.

Felicia took notes as the trainer gave them suggestions in how to set up the assignment.

 

  1. Make sure that you and your kids have a relationship where you can talk and have fun together before you begin.
    Well, that was something she had been working on since she had started the class. She felt like there had been quite a bit of improvement. Angela seemed to want to hang around the house more than she used to and would talk to Felicia more about what was going on at school. Those homework assignments had certainly done wonders for their relationship.
  2. Tell your kids that this is a homework assignment for your class. You want their feedback so that you can improve as a mom or dad. Let them know you’d like to know about some of the things you do right as a parent as well as areas where you could improve. Let them know that it is always hard to receive negative feedback and that you hope they will say the things they want to say as nicely as possible. Regardless of what they tell you, thank them for the feedback.
    I hope I can do this. Treat it like a class assignment…no emotion…just an exercise.
  3. If something they say to you makes you emotional, thank them for the feedback and ask if you can get back together again to discuss it when you’ve got your emotions better under control. Whatever you do, do not react in a negative way to the feedback. I know this is where I’ll mess it up. I can be just like my parents. When someone tells me something I don’t want to hear, words can come spewing out of my mouth.
  4. If you can emotionally handle it at the time, apologize for the reactions you’ve had in the past. Thank them for the feedback you’ve given them and tell them you want to think and pray about it. Also let them know that there will be a follow-up assignment next week. If you get emotional, tell them that this is a really difficult assignment for you and that you need to think about what they’ve said and pray about it. Let them know you’ll follow up with them later. When emotional, exit the conversation by apologizing and telling them I’ll get back to them. Keep it like an exercise. It’s homework…nothing more.
  5. Pray that God will be with you through the exercise. Maybe even pray before you begin the conversation together. Yea, this is going to need lots of prayer!

Felicia spent several days praying about the assignment and trying to get up her nerve. She decided to try it with Ben, her 12 year old. He’d probably be a little more lenient with her. The two of them weren’t nearly as reactionary together as she was with Angela.

She had survived! By Friday, she had sat down with both of her children. As she was mulling over her conversations with her children while cleaning the bathroom, she realized that just like the mirror she was cleaning, her kids had given her a true reflection of how they saw her. The verse of the week was something she needed to focus on and incorporate in her own life.

Proverbs 15:1

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Both Ben and Angela had mentioned numerous times when she had pounced on them with her words, even when sometimes all they were doing was making a simple request. When they had replayed the scenario from their perspectives, Felicia realized how her reaction had actually been the catalyst to set off the explosive words from each of them. They had also reminded her how she was always telling them what they weren’t doing right rather than giving them encouragement for what they were doing. “What my kids need is for me to be their cheerleader!”

Walking into class on Tuesday evening Felicia felt confident in her role as a parent. She might not get everything right, but she was learning so much about the things she did…her words and her reactions. She knew after this last assignment…

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Sometimes as parents our kids want to give us feedback. We welcome anything positive, but are ready to tell them why they are wrong when they want to tell us the negative. Sometimes I wonder if that might be the reason for the saying that I grew up with; ‘Children should be seen and not heard.’ When emotions get high, feelings get hurt, or negative comments come our way, that’s when we need to listen more intently. Our children see our weaknesses. We may not be able to change their behavior, but maybe if they see us want to grow in our role as parents, they will be more open to working in areas where they need to change.

Dare you to ask for feedback on how your kids see you as a parent. You might learn something valuable that could change the family dynamic.

“Let go…and let God”,


Hope you will join Nina Roesner as she provides insight on marriage and Leah Heffner as she blogs to wives with little people as we go through The Respect Dare together.