You manage to get through the nappy changing, learning to walk and sleepless night and then you think that being a parent will start to get easier but then along comes ‘Your Teenager’. Don’t stress! Leann Middlemass has given us her 17 Bright Ideas for Improving Communication With Your Teenager:
Frontal cortex growth – During puberty the frontal cortex of a teenager under goes a development stage whereby hundreds of new neuro pathways begin to open up. This development stage normally lasts about 7 years and when completed will provide your young adult their DOS programming for life.
Teens need more sleep – During this transformation period the extra brain wave activity will make your teen more tired and they can also have trouble getting to sleep. By allowing your child one day on the weekend to sleep as long as they want would actually be beneficial to both of you.
Being older doesn’t mean their more responsible – Just because your teen has reached a certain age doesn’t necessarily mean they are smarter. It’s possible for questions to travel down a new pathway where there is simply no answer at the other end. This could be the reason your teen may forget how to perform simple task.
Be understood not misunderstood – When asking your teen to complete a task always ensure they have understood what it is that you are asking them to do. It’s possible for them to be present without actually hearing what you’re saying. If your question is met with a blank stare you may need to re ask or get your teen to paraphrase your request in order to save future arguments.
Would vs Could – Could asks can you perform the task whereas would is an actual directive to complete it. Always use would to get the job done.
They can only draw on what they know – Teens can only draw on the resources belonging to past memories. Often logic can be elusive especially when they encounter something for the first time like smoking, drinking or partying and with the cortex still developing knowing when to stop can also be problematic.
Forgetfulness – Teens don’t mean to be forgetful. Often they have a lot going on. A good way to improve communications is to leave notes in the same location for them to check. I often put messages on the bathroom mirror using a white board marker. As the tasks are completed they are simply wiped off.
Boundaries – Think of your teen like a new puppy they want to go everywhere but at times cannot see the dangers that lurk ahead. Having boundaries will ensure their safety (even if they don’t like it.)
Have a code word – Teens can often be uncertain about making the right decision and looking foolish in front of friends. Having a code work can help, ours is “grandma.” If my child uses it in a sentence I know she wants me to say no to the request being asked. This way I’m the bad guy and she saves face with her friends.
Stop nagging – If nagging does not work for you then it will not work for your child. Learn to speak to them in the same manner in which you like to be spoken to after all they are becoming young adults. I also like to start with how I am feeling about the situation rather than accusing them of what they did or did not do.
Allow them to be part of the process – We all help in our household. I draw up a list of tasks that need to be done and ask my daughter to select the three she will do. Having her involved in the process gives a choice whereas telling her what to do, does not. More often than not she will take ownership and the task will be completed.
Set a deadline – When you give your child a task ask them when it will be completed. Asking them “do they want to do it before or after dinner” will help them stay on track and give you cause for a reminder if the task is not completed on time.
One word reminders – No one likes to be nagged. After the time line has lapsed I find one word shouted at regular interval like: dishes, dog or even homework normally does the trick.
Teens don’t see a mess – If you see a mess in your teen’s room ask yourself why it bothers you. Is it because your parents made you keep your room clean as a teen? As for me I’ve found using funny post it notes normally get the results I want without nagging. “I like to hang out with my friends” works well when I see wet towels lying on their floor.
Threats don’t work – If you have to punish your teen taking their phone or computer off them may not work, but taking the door off their bedroom heeds wonders. Teens love their privacy and without the door can be left feeling vulnerable and naked. You’d be surprised what they will do for its return.
Hug them often – Ensure that you hug your teen often, they may like to push you away but the reality is that your loving arms are very reassuring even for the boys.
There will be arguments – High emotions often create low intelligence. Name calling when you’re angry can be hurtful for both sides and teens often have a way of never forgetting. Sometimes it’s easier to just walk away and allow things to cool down before approaching the situation again. When this happens I normally start counting how many days till she’s hits her twenties. LOL
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