Teens are a challenge for many parents. With growth of hair and size (my 13-year-old son is 15cm taller than I am already), with the development of their emotions and thinking, parents go through growth too and the communication between parents and teens changes.
Whereas in their early years, we could tell our kids what to do and successfully use the more “traditional” parenting techniques, those are no longer effective when they become teens.
Usually, I focus on what we should do as parents to relate to our children. I am going to change my habit this time and present what you should not do. Next week, I will continue this with the solutions, the best attitude and the best communication method with teens.
If you want to lose communication with your teens, nag. It is a well-known, tested formula for communication breakdown. You nag when you say something again and again, like a broken record. If you want to know how it feels, try to recall listening to a scratched vinyl record (those big black plastic discs that played music. I feel so ancient talking about them). Teens hate nagging and they think it is a source of never ending pressure. Teens go through lots of pressure in their teenage years. Many parents are not aware of this, but parental pressure was found to be a major source of difficulties for teens.
If you want to declare war, tell your teens what to do. Teens take baby steps into the adult world. It is hard and scary and when you tell them what to do, it does not allow them to go through this process with confidence. Imagine a 3-year-old trying to play with something by himself and when you try to help him, he screams, “Me, me, only me! I want to do it by myself”. In many ways, teens behavior is the same. Telling teens what to do triggers the “I can do it by myself” reaction, even if they cannot do it by themselves (next week, I will tell you what to do about it).
If you want to fight with your teens, punish them! Teens do not like punishment. Kids do not like punishment. Well, in fact, people do not like punishment at all. How happy were you last time you opened your mail and found a speeding ticket? Yes, you know it was your responsibility but still it was no fun at all. Punishments are painful reminders there is an entity stronger than you are. The harder the punishment, the more painful it is and therefore the more resentful your teens become. Punishment breeds resentment and resentment is not a good foundation for any relationship.
If you want to alienate yourself, lecture your teens. Lecturers are known to be knowledgeable, opinionated and critical. If there is one thing you should not be telling your teens, it is, “I know something you don’t” (also known as “I can teach you one thing or two”). Because for them, your lectures are proof you do not understand them. You bring your values and experiences from the Dinosaur Age and you do not know at all what they go through in their struggles to grow. If you start lecturing, you fall into the trap of being perceived as distant and inapproachable. Bad move!
If you want to prove to your teens you cannot communicate, scream, shout and yell. If you want to teach them what it means to lose control and feel frustrated, scream, shout and yell. If you want to teach them what not to do when others’ behavior does not match their expectation, scream, shout and yell. If you want to prove to them you are helpless, scream, shout and yell!
Teens are scared in many situations, so if you want them to be more scared – lose control. The main problem with this technique is that when you use it, your teens’ reaction will be to shut out everything you are saying, no matter how important you think it is. High pitch, high volume = “I’m not hearing this”.
If you want your teens to grow up disrespecting you for abusing them emotionally, whenever you want them to do something they do not want to do, lay on the guilt trip. Tell them they will be sorry about it, tell them you will never forgive them and make sure to mention, “Your own kids will do to you what you are doing to me”. People use the guilt trip when they do not have another way of making others do what they want. They play the “conscience” that reminds their teens what is right and what is wrong. Teens do not like to be told they are inconsiderate, insensitive or inappropriate and that they should feel bad about it. Playing the guilt trip is emotional blackmail, so remember that when you blackmail someone once, it is hard to do it the second time.
If you want to show your kids how weak you are, beg! Parents beg when telling, lecturing and punishing do not work. Teens, on the other hand, feel very powerful when you say, “I beg of you”. It is almost like giving them the captaincy of your family ship. It is as if you are saying, “I have no control over this ship and I am at your mercy”. Begging is an act of inferiority and do not be surprised when your teens think they are in control of the house.
If you want a chaotic relationship with your teens, bribe them when you want them to do something. I am sure many of you ask, “What’s the difference between bribing and giving rewards?” Good question! Bribes are given before the desired action, while rewards are given after. When you bribe, you say, “If you clean your room, I will allow you to go to the party”. This is when you give your kids tools to manipulate you back. It will take no time for them to start saying, “If you allow me to go to the party, I will clean my room”. Be careful, because bribing is a double-edged sword.
I can hear you saying, “OK Ronit, you told us what we should never say or do. Now tell us what we should say or do instead”.
I knew you would ask, and I have prepared the answer in advance.
Come again next Friday for … “8 Best Ways to Treat Your Teens”, or subscribe to my blog via RSS or email, so that whenever a new post is available, you get straight into your mailbox.
Here is a great and easy way to