Talking to teens….

Ive bought a book called “How to talk so teens will listen and listen so teens will talk”. It’s a bit of a mouthful and as you’ve probably guessed its written by an American. 

I don’t normally refer to books for parenting advice. I borrowed the “What to expect when you’re expecting” book when I was pregnant with T and I bought one to help me get the little bugger to sleep when he was two years old but other than that I’ve pretty much gone on instinct and advice from those around me. And, whether by luck or judgement, it’s not been too bad a ride so far. Yes, A was a hideous nightmare for the three years from 1-4 (and beyond on occasion and mostly when she’s tired – as witnessed by our neighbours earlier this evening) but other than that and the usual ratty behaviour it’s been ok. 

So why the book? Well, although T appears to be coping pretty well so far with the becoming a teen malarkey, I want to have some tricks up my sleeve and like any good Scout, Be Prepared. (On a side note did you know that this motto actually ended with the words “..to die for your country” when it was first introduced? Just a bit of trivia for you.) 

The book was recommended on a Teens parents network I’ve joined on Facebook and it’s actually not too bad. The best bit is that K doesn’t have to read it as it has some cartoon drawings that summarise each section. Result. The basic premise so far is to outsmart your teen. Not too difficult surely being as we were all one of them at some long distant point? Well, apparently there’s ways and means of doing this. My favourite one so far is “Instead of nagging do something unexpected”. For example, instead of nagging your teen to stop slurping their soup, challenge the whole family to eat their soup without slurping – but said in an “I’m such a fun mum” kind of manner. Okaaaaayyyyy. 

But, in all seriousness there have been some good ideas about how to respond in certain situations and I’ve found some of them quite useful. Not nagging comes up a lot. Talking to them as if they are a work colleague – one that you like and respect rather than the idiot that you’d like to punch in the face – and taking on board their feelings. Validating what they say by repeating it back in your own words “you feel it’s unfair of me to ask you to do the washing up when you have schoolwork to do.” 

Staying calm. Not backing down. Giving them time to think it through before you continue the discussion. Don’t say “no” to everything. Some of these sound obvious but I am guilty of doing or not doing most of them. But I’m going to try and work on it. I managed to stay calm with A earlier, and I didn’t back down and I gave her time to think it through. I may get some use out of this book after all. 

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