Communicating Better With Your Teen
By Randi Morse
When my children were little I remember how easy it was to get them to listen to me. If they didn't I'd put on the stern face and use the "mom voice" and suddenly they'd be so scared of me (even though I never once used corporal punishment), they'd do whatever I asked. As my children got older things got trickier. It's much more difficult to get an obstinate teenager to do as you ask than it is to get a child. So how do you communicate with your teen without ruining your relationship with them?
Teens Are Like Toddlers
It's important to remember that teenagers are like toddlers, at least when it comes to how they're evolving and changing. Toddlers are constantly learning, their brains making all sorts of new neurological connections and their bodies growing to match. Teenagers are the same way. It's the reason they need more sleep than the average person, just like toddlers do, and why they tend to be cranky a lot. Just like toddlers, teenagers think that they're old enough to do things on their own and to make their own decisions. Realizing this may help you have a little bit more patience with your teen.
Make a Good Connection
The one thing your teenager wants, just as a toddler does, is to be heard. Let's say you've asked your teenage boy to take a shower this weekend. He hasn't had one in a few days and he's starting to smell a little ripe. When you ask him to shower it's because you're trying to ensure he stays hygienic and that he doesn't get singled out in public because of his looks or smell. He sees something different. In his mind, you're trying to control him because you don't think he's an adult capable of making his own decisions.
Make a good connection with him and try to do it with good humor. Explain that you understand he's going for the Guinness Book of World Records as the most smelly person alive, and that he's more than welcome to try for that title when he's on his own, but that you'd really appreciate him taking a shower. Then be specific and ask what day and time works best for him. You can even write it down and stick it to the bedroom door.
When it comes to dealing with teenagers, try to keep a good sense of humor, try to make sure your teenager feels heard, and try to remember that patience that you had when they were toddlers. Just as when they were toddlers, they will grow out of his frustrating phase as well!
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