React by not acting impulsively. Just stop, take a breath and think. Will the words that were about to fly out of your mouth lead to more productive action? If not, it’s time to rethink and rephrase. Respond with words that will get your point across AND give your child a reason and motivation to care about the outcomes. Imagine how this new way of responding can turn an upsetting situation into a simple request or statement of fact. Bypass confrontations which drain your energy. Say what needs to be said in a way in which it can be heard. And when talking to teens, the fewer words the better! They know what you’re talking about in the first sentence or two. In fact, they often know what’s coming before you’ve even said a word!
And, as always, remember that you are your child’s most important teacher. She is watching and learning from you. You are modeling for her how to react and respond when those pesky hot buttons are pushed. So show her the ways that work, and ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE!
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Questions for Reflection:
1. The “do” and “don’t” approaches… which one brings out a productive attitude in you?
2. Think about a situation with your teen that ended with raised voices, or hurt silence. If you could have a ‘do-over,’ how would you rephrase to get your message out AND to leave an opening for your child to take some positive action?
3. How would you feel? How do you think your teen would feel?
4. Many situations lend themselves to ‘do-overs.’ Would you feel comfortable telling your child you’d like to try again and do it differently this time? If so, take this opportunity to try a new skill and show your child how it’s done!