Monday, November 24, 2008

Topic Two in Teen Parenting Series - Teen Cue Words: the Words All Parents Should Have in Their Parenting Dictionary

A series providing parents of teens 9 strategies to help improve communicating with their teens and work towards creating a better parent/child relationship. I call these "Cue" words, because argumentative interaction with our teen-age kids should be our cue to switch words or our manner of speaking with our teen. Changing a few key words when interacting with your teenager will rescue you from the constant feeling of having verbal arrows thrown at you by your teen! Today's installment covers Teen-Talk Rule #1: When talking with your teens, try using "It" instead of "You" in your conversations. By making this simple change, you will immediately feel the benefits! By doing this, parents avoid having their teen feel they are being judged or evaluated. When speaking to a teen, each time we insert the word “you,” in their world sounds like we are judging them. Example:
  • Before: “Kathy you really need to go to bed now.”
  • After: “Kathy it’s getting late, it really is time to go to bed now.

Saying you have to go to bed may seem logical to the parent but to the teen they hear, “what have you been doing all night, why are you late, why are you off schedule?” and with that in mind they take it personally.

Because our teen feels this way, they revert to a defensive position, which is why they normally would respond to our request for them to go to bed in a defensive manner. Not usually brimming with sugar and spice and everything... This tactic can also be applied to non-directives but in simple conversation: Example: Your child is talking about a bad day at school, how he didn't get to complete his gym class, he was sent to the school office.
  • Before (Parent): “What did you do to get sent to the office.”
  • Your teen is immediately feeling defensive, and you don’t even know what happened yet, and will probably react in a very argumentative way, “I didn'tdo ANYTHING."
  • After (Parent): “What happened during the class?”
  • While you don’t have to actually use the word “it,” by focusing on the event vs. your child individually, they will not feel as threatened or judged.

When I implemented this change in my vocabulary, I was amazed at the results. The "IT" changed as a I referred to it when I first learned about it was a lifesaver for me!

The "IT" change also supports the Victim/Villain roles referenced in the first installment of this series. When saying "you" to our teen, knowing what we know now, it is easy to see that it could instantly cast our teen in the "victim" role, because they are feeling personally "attacked" vs, just an inquiring mind wanting to know how it went in school today!

Once you try this strategy, please post your experience on the comments, we can all learn together from each other's experience. In this case, we'll say, "it takes a virtual village to raise our teens!"

Next topic in the series: Teen-Talk Rule #2 - PULL out the Positive!

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