Tag Archive for: my teen only does what he wants

Changing Our Communication with Our Teens

Misty caught herself doing it again. But this time she knew what she had done it all wrong. She could fix it if she could think through the steps calmly. She knew she needed to change her communication with her 14 year old son, but she was just so emotional where he was concerned. He got her so riled up!

It started out innocently, but then it grew and grew.

“Tyler, I thought I asked you to put the baseball bag out in the garage.”

“Oh, I forgot.”

“What do you mean you forgot? If you would just do what I tell you when I tell you, it wouldn’t have been a problem!”

“Mom, I needed to call Mark back. I told him I would call him as soon as I got in.”

“I don’t care what you did. It is what you didn’t do.”

“By the way, did you bring in the trash cans like I asked?”

“I’m heading out there now.”

“Don’t forget to take the baseball stuff with you!”

“Geesh, Mom, I come in from the big game and all you do is order me around,” Tyler mumbled under his breath.

“What did you say? Don’t you talk to me like that or you’ll be doing the dinner dishes too!”

And with that comment, Tyler slammed the door to the garage.

As parents of tweens and teens, it is so easy to spiral out of control with conversations like the one above. What starts out as a simple request that doesn’t get fulfilled ends up in a situation where both the parent and the teen become so emotionally drawn in that both end up frustrated or angry.

Do you ever go back and analyze the communication pattern to understand the emotional trigger?

Take Misty’s conversation with Tyler. What if she was able to hit the rewind button?

“Tyler, I thought I asked you to put the baseball bag out in the garage.”

“Oh, I forgot.”

“Honey, I know you’re probably tired from baseball. Why don’t you take the bag to the garage and please bring in the trash cans while you are at it. I’ll fix you a snack and you can tell me all about the game.

All Misty did was change one response…and the relationship is maintained. The frustration and anger doesn’t get a chance to even start.

But what if you are like Misty and the anger is too high and it’s too late to rewind? Take a break, analyze, and apologize.

When emotion is high and there is no way for positive communication to take place, it’s time to take a break. Too many times in situations like this, we as parents want to let Tyler verbally have it again when he comes back in the house. Try taking a break instead. Let him get his emotions under control so he can better listen and hear what you have to say.

While you are taking a “time out” from him, analyze what happened. Where did the communication break down? How could you have responded differently? Since we can only change our own behavior, we have to assume that we as parents have the ability to either not start the fight or have communication tools to de-escalate the emotional fire. Take ownership for changing the outcome.

When both of you have had time to calm down, model a heart-felt apology. Here’s Misty’s repair attempt with Tyler after dinner.

“Tyler, I owe you an apology for earlier. I’m sorry I was so upset that you hadn’t taken your baseball bag out and put it in the garage like I asked you. I know that you were probably tired after the game and all I could think about was the dirt that was probably on that bag after I vacuumed earlier today. I didn’t even ask you how the game went. Will you forgive me for being so focused on a clean house rather than on your day?”

Proverbs 12:18

The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Dare you to pay attention to emotions that skyrocket. Using words that bring healing might make for a much calmer house and fewer emotional battles.

“Let go…and let God,”