Tag Archive for: my teen doesn’t listen

Are You Trying to Control Your Teen with Anger?

 

Anger is an emotion that most of us have to deal with from time to time especially when our tweens and teens push our hot buttons.  Typically when this happens our real desire is to just make the situation go away. “Why did you do that?  How dare you speak to me that way!  You are so in trouble, young man”, are all retorts to get out kid’s attention in the moment.

When our emotions are out of control our voice will escalate and a scowl will become our facial expression to let our teen know that they’ve crossed a line.  In reality, the stance sometimes with hands on hips tells our teen we mean business.  It is actually our attempt to control the situation we find ourselves in.

These type of responses are in essence a way of self-protection hoping to fix the problem that’s been thrust upon us.  The truth is that some type of fear or feeling of not being in control has been triggered. 

But the important question is “what message are we sending to our teens”?

When we get angry we are communicating to our teen that the problem or issue is more important than our relationship.

Ouch!

Many times our anger becomes a rant where our teens stop listening and begin planning their counter attack.  If we escalate often, we’ve most likely lost them as soon as we raise our voice.  Now the situation is about us and not them.  

Anger is a natural response when we feel our teens are pushing the limits outside of our desires, but it isn’t the anger that is the problem as much as our lack of control of the anger. 

Feelings are a natural God-given way to self-preserve.  But do we exercise them in a way that puts our desires or need to control before the relationship?

Here’s what I mean by that.  Perhaps the next time you find yourself yelling at your teen, try this.

Let’s assume Ralph has really upset you and you catch yourself yelling at him or maybe he says something like “Mom, you don’t have to get so upset.”

  1. Pause.  Whisper a quick prayer–maybe just the words “help me, Lord”.
  2. Say something like “I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t be yelling at you like this. “
  3. Then in a calm controlled voice say “As you can tell, I’m really angry about this, but our relationship is more important.  Let me start over.”
  4. Begin again in a calmer voice without blame and accusation.  Something like “I noticed you didn’t ___________, and I’m sure you have a good explanation (giving them the benefit of the doubt).  I’d like you to help me understand.”

James 1:20

because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

All of us have different levels of  maturity in our ability to control our emotions.  How we interact and respond to our kids is not only ingrained in us but has the potential to become part of who they are. It not only becomes ingrained in them but  is seen as acceptable behavior as they interact with others.

I had a Christian mom who used to come to me after an altercation with her kids and laugh as she told me how she had “yelled” at her kids for something they did.  There was no remorse on her part because she saw it as a normal parenting response.  How sad.

If we want relationship with our kids in the future, we need to become more aware of our own parenting behaviors that are triggered by fear.  

Dare you to let you tweens and teens know that you recognize this wrong behavior in your life and ask them to hold you accountable.  Maybe they can give you a signal when they see your emotions starting to escalate.  By doing so, you’ll forge a relationship that says we’re on the same team and anger won’t be controlling your home.

“Let go…and let God”,

Most of us have never paused long enough in our parenting to assess how we’re really doing.  We’re busy reacting to the hustle and bustle that comes with the tween and teen years rather than looking at the legacy we want to have continue for generations to come.   Working through With All Due Respect will give you perspective on where you are in the journey.  

Why not grab a few friends and go through the book together?  

How Do I Get Through to My Teen’s Brain?

Last week a friend sent me a funny picture.  It was a picture of an empty glass sitting on her kitchen counter.  Her comment on the photo read, “Asked my teen to get me a glass of lemonade.  Guess he got it half right.”

I couldn’t help but chuckle.  At least she was looking at the bright side.  After all, he did get the glass out.  🙂

The question I have to ask is, “How would you have handled that situation?”

  1.  Laughter and overlook it?
  2. Get upset for your teen not doing what he was asked and read him the riot act?
  3. Ground him for disobedience?
  4. Refuse to do what he asks you to do next time?

It reminded me of a “what do I do?” question that I got from another mom.  This mom was running late with errands and needed her teen to put pasta on for dinner.  

This mom called five minutes before she was to arrive home.  Her 16 year old daughter was still up in her room and hadn’t even made it downstairs by the time mom got home.

And so, how do we decide how to handle these situations when our teens fail to follow through?

One of the things I learned years ago is that it takes our brain time to switch gears.  Say you are in the middle of reading a good book and one of your kids says, “Mom, I need you to ______.”  Do you immediately jump and do whatever it is they need?

Probably not.

It takes our brain time to switch gears unless we are in a crisis situation.  Let’s face it, if our kid said that the grease in the skillet on the stove is on fire, we’d be in the kitchen in a heartbeat regardless of how exciting the novel.

The thing we need to know about our teen’s brain is that we need to “unhook” what they are currently working on in order for them to grasp the importance of what we need them to do in the moment.

Take the empty glass situation I mentioned earlier.  I’m not sure how she asked her son to get her lemonade; however, what if she had said something like, “Honey, I know that you are busy getting ready for soccer, but I need you to stop what you are doing a minute.  Would you please fix me a glass of lemonade because I’m really thirsty and my hands are full and I want to get you to soccer practice on time? Once you’ve gotten my lemonade, you can finish getting ready.” 

Notice the process. 

  1. Acknowledge that what they are doing is important.  (Validation.)
  2. Let them know you need them to stop what they are doing. (Unhooks their brain from their current focus.)
  3. Tell them what they need to do and why. (Gives them urgency.)
  4. Let them know that they can return to what they were doing once they’ve done what you asked. (This again validates the importance of what they are doing and let’s them know they can get back to it.)

When I spoke to the mom about the pasta, she was really frustrated.  The principles she could have applied would have been similar.

“Hi honey, I’m not sure what you are doing right now but I need you to stop whatever it is and do me a favor.  I’m running late with errands and need to get dinner on right away so we can go to the play tonight.  If you would go downstairs right now and put a pot of water on to boil that would help me a ton.  Could you do that for me?” 

Notice the mom ends with a question.  Remember mom isn’t home and has no idea what her daughter is doing.  This question allows the teen to push back and explain why it isn’t possible or why she might be delayed in carrying out the request.  It also gives her brain time to unhook from her current endeavor and acknowledge that she needs to change her focus.

Sometimes it’s the little things in our communication that make all the difference in the world in helping our teens follow through with our requests.  In today’s world our teens are constantly being bombarded with sounds and other technology gimmicks to get their attention.  Learning to communicate in ways that they can hear can unhook our teen’s focus and move them into action.

Proverbs 16:23

The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasiveness to his lips.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Want to learn more communication skills that will grow the relationships within your family?  Send me an email with your communication question and I’ll be sure to respond.  You can contact me at debbiehitchcock@gettingperspective.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Steps to Help Validate Your Kids

The word validation has been cropping up everywhere I turn for the past two weeks.  It’s something that I’ve struggled with for years.  I always thought empathy and validation were essentially the same thing.  I tended to be pretty good on the empathy front so I assumed that my empathy was in fact validating my kids.  After all, I was listening, naming their feelings, trying to connect on an emotional level.  I was telling them I understood why they felt the way they did, and then I would share how I saw the situation.

Wrong.  (That is the sharing how I saw the situation part).

It took a good friend to call me out on it one day.  Actually we were in the middle of a disagreement.  It wasn’t heated and I was doing my best at showing her empathy at the time.  Then I used the word.  You probably use it often too.  It is that little word where we invalidate everything we just said.

I used the word “But”.

Validation is more than empathy.  Validation says that you have a right to think the way you do AND feel the way you feel.  It also says that I’m willing to acknowledge it.  I am willing to be present in your moment.

On a surface level, validation is acknowledgement.  When we are standing in the kitchen prepping a meal and our teen comes in from school, turning to acknowledge they are home, looking them in the eye, or asking a question is a form of validation.  It says that I think you are more important that whatever I am doing in the moment.  I choose to be present and engage says a lot to validate the importance of that person in your life.  Multi-tasking while our teen is sharing their story is not validation.  

Oh, my.  How many times a day do I actually stop what I am doing to validate the importance of my teen in my life?

Another level of validation is to summarize and reflect on what the other person has said and maybe include how you think the person is feeling.  Just by summarizing in a non-judgmental way, it tells your teen that you hear her AND you acknowledge her world.  If your teen comes in crying and tells you something her best friend did to her, “Meggie told everyone at school that I liked Tim.  I hate her!”, validating her might be something like “Oh, I’m so sorry she told everyone that.  You must feel so hurt that she would betray your confidence.”  Another step would be to hug and console her by letting her cry on your shoulder.

How many times do we invalidate our teen by saying things we think will fix the problem?  “Oh, honey, you don’t hate Meggie.  She’s your best friend.”  or “Meggie certainly didn’t mean to tell everyone.  You’re just hurt.  This will blow over.”  We may say the words in a soothing manner; however, have we thought about what we are really saying to our child?  Words such as these defend the other person and can make our teen feel like their thoughts and feelings aren’t justified.

To take it up a notch, we can even validate someone when we are in the middle of a disagreement. 

  • Listen carefully to their words and summarize them to make sure you heard correctly in a non-threatening, non-judgmental way.
  • Read their body language and use words to describe what they might be feeling.  Get consensus that the words you choose are accurate to them.
  • Understand their tone of voice and acknowledge the emotion the other person is conveying.
  • Agree with the other person as much as possible.  In other words, agree that they have a right to feel the way they feel and they have a right to think differently than you.
  • Apologize for your part in making the other person feel the way they feel even if you feel that you did nothing to make them feel that way. Sometimes we do and say things that are taken the wrong way, but we can still apologize for the way it came across.
  • Try to resolve the disagreement only after the other person feels totally heard and understood.  Make sure they know that you are on their team.

A mom called me last week to share a conversation she had had with her adult son.   He called her to say he wanted to come over because he had some things he wanted to get off his chest.  It seems he had been bottling up frustration for several years about some of the decisions his mom had made when he lived at home and the way he was parented.  This son came in with accusation after accusation.  When I asked my friend how she responded to him, she told me, “I just listened and then told him why I did the things I did.”

As she shared, I imagined a ping-pong game.  You did this, justification.  You did that, justification.  When this happened, justification.  You didn’t, justification.  Back and forth without any acknowledgement of his feelings.  No summarizing to get clarification of his thoughts or to make sure he felt heard.

“How did the conversation end?” I asked.

“After about an hour and a half, I told him I was sorry and he left,” she responded.  “He seemed talked out.”

“I asked if she thought her son felt closure and connection.”  

“I don’t know,” she replied.

The son most likely wanted reconciliation and an adult perspective of what happened while he was growing up.  Let’s face it.  As parents we will make mistakes and we want our kids to bring those things they are having difficulty understanding to our attention.  Thankfully, this mom was open to the conversation; she listened and she did apologize.

That’s a great first step.

But validation can be so much more if we choose to not justify our actions.  Justification says I’m right and you are wrong.  It can become threatening and feel judgmental to the other person.

Many of us do this without even realizing it!  It is second nature to justify our actions and responses especially if we grew up in a home that didn’t use validation as a means of encouragement and connection. 

This friend and I are still talking about her conversation with her son.  She didn’t even recognize that there was more she could have done.  I’m encouraging her to try practicing the skill of validation and reopen the conversation with her son in the future.  If she does, then full restorative healing can take place.

Acknowledgement of our child’s thoughts, frustrations, and emotions through validation can strengthen our relationship beyond our wildest dreams.  It communicates acceptance.  It communicates that their thoughts and emotions have value.  And even when we don’t necessarily agree with them, it shows that there are different ways to view any situation and their way is okay.  Validation leads to an opportunity to later explain your view of the situation without condemnation.  They’ll be more open to listening to you because they feel valued by you.

Romans 8:1

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

Dare you to learn the skills of validation to enhance the relationship with your teens.  Start becoming more aware of your conversations with your teens by getting rid of the “but” and justifying your actions.  If you do, it will strengthen your relationship.

“Let go…and let God”,

We’re in the process of revamping our With All Due Respect eCourse.  For a limited time moms can sign up for our current course on Facebook.  And it’s free. Get your copy of the book to go through the dares with us here.

Are You in a Battle of Wills With Your Teen?

Cheryl was absolutely at the end of her rope with her 12 year old daughter. Where had her little girl gone? It was almost as if overnight this sweet little innocent girl had taken an obstinate “my way or the highway” stance, determined to turn the family upside down if she didn’t get her way. At first Cheryl thought it was just a phase with raging hormones and tried to make light of the situation. But recently she was really starting to worry. This “phase” was taking so long; she felt a war brewing.

Every day seemed to bring a new set of “wants” or a “you can’t make me” attitude. Taylor was either wanting Cheryl to pick up friends and take them to the mall, or pool, or the local amusement park to hang out. If not that, then a sleepover or movie was on her list. If she didn’t have someone to entertain her and was stuck at home, she would torment her younger brother or refuse to do anything Cheryl asked. Taylor’s room had become such a pig sty that Cheryl was ready to go in and box everything up to get her attention!

“Nothing seems to work.” Cheryl told Ron as they were getting ready for bed. “I told her today that she couldn’t go to Brie’s until she vacuumed the family room and emptied the dishwasher. She pulled the vacuum out, plugged it in and then went and called Brie. Before I knew it, Brie was up in Taylor’s room with everything still not done. I had no other choice but to ground her again. At the rate we’re going, she’ll be grounded until she graduates from high school.”

“I’ll have a talk with her tomorrow,” offered up Ron. “I’m not going to let her walk all over you. She lives in our house and she’s going to follow our rules. You don’t have to say yes to her every whim. And she is not going to be setting the agenda this summer for everyone else’s day. She needs to either get with the program or this is going to be a lonely, uneventful summer.”

As the week passed, the heat turned up. Not only outside, but in their home. With every move that Cheryl and Ron made to get Taylor in line with the house rules and help her realize that she was part of the team, the more Taylor dug in her heels.

The war was on…each side determined to win.

Cheryl would plan something fun for the two kids each day, while Taylor would wreak havoc determined not to allow the plans to succeed. Misery seemed to engulf each day with Cheryl longing to drop into bed each evening from sheer exhaustion and battle fatigue. “I have to win this war.” she thought to herself. “If I don’t, then Taylor will. If she wins…then ultimately everyone loses.”

As Cheryl pondered tomorrow’s strategy, praying that God would right the ship, she remembered an exercise she had done in Daughters of Sarah. Sure the class was for women working on their marriage, but she wondered if it might help in this situation. In the marriage class, she had to “remember” things she and Ron used to do early on in their marriage. By remembering…those feelings of love and joy would resurface. If she were honest with herself, right now given the situation, it was hard to feel the love and joy with Taylor. All she really wanted to do was get this kid under control. Okay, Lord, how can I use this exercise the feel love and joy with Taylor? How can I recreate those feelings for both of us?

As she pondered on what she could do, a scripture came to mind.

Philippians 4:23

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

“Dear Lord,” Cheryl whispered, “help me to find the good in Taylor. Help me to remember the things that used to make us laugh. Help me to not put up the wall of defense in our relationship, but to build a bridge from the things we used to enjoy. Help me to start conversation about fun times and see if she is open to having more of these connections. Help me to do things with her that can create a positive memory through things she likes to do. Help me create an environment where she doesn’t see me as an enemy, but as someone who wants to help her reach her dreams. Help me to focus on the things she does right and praise her rather than focusing on the negative and grounding her. My desire is to see us connect in a win-win mentality rather than war.”

As parents, it is easy to fall in the trap of full-fledged battle as our kids start wanting to make their own choices. Too often, we play the “grounded” card heaping punishment upon punishment rather than communicating with our children that we both are on the same team and have the same goal – their eventual independence.

Dare you to find ways to play back the memories, helping them remember the fun you used to have together and building a bridge to continue those experiences with new things your tweens and teens enjoy.

“Let go…and let God”,

Do you long to have a better relationship with your kids?  Are you constantly in conflict wishing you knew how to navigate it in a way to bring you closer together?  We can help you have a Greater Impact in all your relationships.  

Grab a copy of With All Due Respect:40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship with your Teens & Tweens and join us in our eCourse.  There you’ll find me and other mentors and moms just like you who are trying to improve the relationships in their family.  Together we can make an impact!