Five Secrets for Handling Difficult Teen Parenting Situations
There are five secrets to help you move from conflict to cooperation. Let the acronym "CLEAR" aid you in remembering what they are.
1. Connect. Connection is everything, and you connect by having rapport. It's easy to be in rapport when you like your teen. Yet teenagers are often difficult to like. Did you know that liking someone is not a prerequisite for rapport? The ability to find something likable, however, is necessary.
To develop rapport, focus on something you can appreciate about your son or daughter. It can be a physical trait (eye color or bright smile), a character trait or a talent you can admire. If that feels hard, think back to when your child was an infant or toddler. Focusing on a positive aspect of your teen will build connection and prepare you for your next interaction. Then, notice the difference as you feel more connected and in accord with each other.
2. Listen. Before you can be a good listener, you need to be willing to get more information. When you listen without being attached to your own point of view, you can become open and less defensive. I suggest that you listen consciously without interrupting. Imagine you are hearing the words from the smartest and most admirable person you know.
Resist the impulse to dismiss your teen's feelings or to give unsolicited advice. Be interested in your teen; don't make the conversation about you. That would be a turnoff, and over time, you would run the risk of turning your teenager further away, eventually looking for family and "love" in all the wrong places.
3. Empathy. Many arguments and much strife would be avoided if you take a moment to step into teens' shoes, to learn how they perceive their situation. Then, empathize right away. This ability to truly hear and seek to understand allows your teen to feel heard -- vital for smooth communications.
When you empathize, be sincere. Focus on the words and feelings that are given and speak to them. Let your teen know that you feel their pain or their joy. Experiencing empathy feels like receiving a hug. Without it, we feel empty and alone. Empathy enhances self-worth and builds harmonious and trustful relationships.
4. Acknowledge. Acknowledge your teen's thoughts, feelings or complaints; this does NOT mean that you are agreeing with them! You are simply and effectively connecting to them by validating what you heard. Some of you might be tempted to skip this step, so strong is our "need to be right." Don't do it!