Snooping or Shaming Teens Will Not Give You More Control or Respect: Here is What Will.
Teens…One minute they want all of our attention, and the next they want nothing to do with us. What happened to my open, sometimes clingy son? He used to share everything with me. He became secretive and elusive. My questions were answered with grunts, if at all. I remember really missing the younger years, as our sons became teenagers.
So what happens to our children as they enter their teen years?
They shift from getting everything they want and need from parents to their peers. This is a normal stage of development called “individuation.”
And, it can be really hard for us parents not to take it personally.
It may also feel like your teenager is being rebellious.
They are trying hard to figure out who they are separate from us, their parents.
We parents become a source of embarrassment.
It often feels as if they don’t want us in their lives anymore.
So what can we do to stay involved in our teenager’s lives?
1. Respect their need for privacy. If their door is shut, it is important to knock and respect them if they say, “Go away”.
2. Have faith in their capabilities, and let them make their own decisions. If they choose to spend “too much” time with their friends and not enough on their homework, they will have to live with the results. You will not be there forever to remind them. Micromanaging will only cause more rebellion from your teen. Letting them make mistakes with no blame, shame, or pain is critical. If they come to you upset with the outcome of a decision, ask them questions can help them learn to problem solve. “What happened? What could have been done differently?” are the types of questions that will help them think through the situation and potential solutions. They do not need us to fix their problem or rescue them!
3. Try remembering back to what you wanted and needed when you were their age. Their priorities are probably pretty similar – friends, dates, belonging to a group, etc. That is where they are coming from, and the more you can understand that, the less friction there will be.
4. Really listen. Teens are more likely to open up when sitting next to you while riding in the car or walking side by side. It feels less intrusive to them. Asking questions that begin with “what” or “how” can show you are curious about what’s going on in their lives. “How did your project turn out?” or “What are you thinking about doing this weekend?” are examples of these types of questions. It’s then important to really listen, and be open to what they are sharing.
5. Do something they enjoy, even if it’s not your favorite thing to do. Watching a horror movie with a shared bowl of popcorn is a good example.
6. Be there when they want to talk. Listen with an open mind and heart. Validate their feelings. For example, your daughter may come home from school complaining that she hates her best friend. Responding with, “What happened to make you feel that way?” “Hmmm.” “Sounds like you felt really hurt.” You are listening and engaging, and showing her that her feelings matter.
7. Sit silently with them, just to be together. If your son is playing a video game, ask if you can join him and read a book while he’s playing. Just being together is connecting.
8. Model what you want from them. Demonstrate what it’s like to build connections and relationships with everyone around you. Speak respectfully to others. Fully listen to them, and show that you are listening. Put all of your electronic devices away when having a conversation, look the other person in the eye, and reflectively listen. “I hear you saying you were upset….”
9. Have patience. This is a stage, and it too, will pass. By allowing them the space to become independent and resilient, they will be!
Remember, they are being a “normal” teen when they pull away from us parents. Think back – most of us did the same thing! And they don’t remain teenagers forever. If we give them the space to grow and learn, they often become our best friends in their twenties!
Connect with Carol on the Positive Discipline of Connecticut Facebook page!