listening to teens

How to Talk so Teens will Listen and Listen so Teens will Talk

Crib Notes from Parenting Group (One of Three)

Authors Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish

Many parents dismiss, criticize, judge, try to fix, or push away powerful and upsetting feelings …and it is natural to imitate our own parents.

The question is not ‘how do I fix things’ but rather:

How do I enable my teens to fix things for themselves?

Basic Principles & Skills

We unwittingly add to distress by dismissing feelings

Help your teen put thoughts and feelings into words and to help your teen to deal.

            “Something is making you very unhappy”

            “Oh no!  No wonder you are upset”

            “Ugh that can hurt”

            “You wanted so much to believe it”

We add to distress by criticizing

Acknowledge with minimal but empathic responses such as just a word or a sound so teen feels heard and free to focus on own needs of what to do

            “Oh?”

            “Ahhhh!”

            “Mmmmm”

            “Ugh”

            “I see”

Instead of logic and explanations which add to his frustrations

Give in fantasy what your teen can’t have, to help accept reality

            “Hmmm, sounds like you cant wait”

            “and you wish…”

            “If you had it your way…”

            “Then…”

Instead of ignoring your better judgment and going along the path of least resistance

Help your teen accept reality and redirect the unacceptable behavior

            “I wish I could say yes”

            “That is rough”

            “Boy, will you be glad when…”

            “Right now….”

Instead of threats or orders to which your teen will react with defiance or solemn compliance

Substitute a choice that meets your needs and the teens

 

Instead of lectures that are tuned out

Say it in a one-word reminder to focus your teen and more likely receive engagement

 

Instead of pointing out what’s wrong and getting tuned out

State respectfully your values and expectations and your teen will be more likely to live up to them

            In our family…

            I expect…

 

Instead of angry reprimands when teens are especially sensitive to parent’s disapproval

Respond with a playful approach, substituting humor for criticism changes mood and makes cooperation possible

 

Instead of nagging

If your teen is slow to respond to spoken reminders put it in writing


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