Communicating with Teens
This is Kathryn Jones, the Peaceful Parenting Coach, with a tip about communicating with teens.
I had a recent situation with my 13-year-old daughter. She had a pretty grumpy mood from the minute I picked her up, and from the night before she had been with her grandparents, so I knew that it couldn’t have been me. I hadn’t had the opportunity to be the reason for her to have a grumpy mood, and yet everything was my fault. And normally for parents, in that moment, we tend to get a bit tense and upset and we tend to justify the fact that it’s not our fault. We somehow have to fix it or argue with them; and the reality is that, that’s not what’s going on at all, nor is it helpful. It isn’t our fault, we know that; and they actually know that too.
In that moment, I had a thought: ‘What if I changed the way I speak with her?’ Based on what I really understand about our feelings, our feelings come from thought in the moment; and so therefore, the fact that she’s having angry feelings towards me means that she’s having angry thoughts — and they’re not necessarily about me, but they’re aimed at me because I happened to be that person that’s there at the time. And you know, I’m a safe person to tag emotional things at because we have a good connection.
So instead of trying to reason with her, or justify, or argue, I said to her, “Sounds like you’re having some pretty angry thinking going on. What’s this angry thinking about?” And so, she thought about it, and she started to talk about what she was angry about. And from there, we could actually discuss quite sensibly what solutions there might be to what was going on, and from there on we had a beautiful day together. It could have been a pretty horrible day, but it turned out to be a beautiful day.
A simple switch in our language, in our thinking, and having our wits about us with our teens, can actually bring about really productive conversation, and really helpful discussion around solutions to whatever it is they’re struggling with. If you want to be their ally, if you want to be a part of the solution with them then we have to change our approach, and this approach really works.
Give it a try.