Before you approach a conversation with your teenager that you would like to be impactful, it is worthwhile spending a little time to ‘do your work.’ No teenager is going to respond how you’d like them to if you are:
- Talking down to them
- Dictating how you think things should be
- Not listening
- Raising your voice
- Letting your emotions run the conversation
It’s so easy to do, right? And, have you ever noticed, the result is exactly what you didn’t want to happen? While you might be justifiably, righteously, correct in the heat of the moment, the next morning doesn’t feel so great. And usually, the day will start with stony silence. Which can take a while to clear.
If that has been you in the past, and you’d like this to change while still getting a resolution to the issue you are struggling with then read on.
Don’t go into the conversation with your emotions running high. If you are mad, tell them. Say, “I’d like to talk to you about …. Now is not a good time. I’m too mad. We’ll discuss this tomorrow.” And leave it at that – either walk away or change the subject. Spend the time you have just bought yourself working out your anger. Go for a walk. Journal. Phone a friend. And when it’s out, be kind to yourself. Take some deep breaths and acknowledge that, right now, it is hard.
If you find your tone of voice and your body language do not match the words coming out of your mouth then the conversation will do more damage than good. Monitoring your internal state throughout the conversation is the most important skill you can activate and use. Period.
Come to the conversation with the attitude of ‘we need each other to work this out.’ I have ideas to contribute, you have ideas to contribute and I’m sure we can come up with lots of new ideas between us too.
Remember this is only one part of our relationship. We can do lots of other things together. Just because we disagree about this one thing, it doesn’t mean we have to disagree about other things too. We’re working on one issue here. And it’s NOT personal. We’ll stick to the issue.
Listening is the most important thing we can do. Be reflective so they know you understand their point of view. No interrupting is allowed.
The purpose of this conversation is so we can work this problem/conflict out. It’s not about being right or wrong. It’s about working out how to go forward from here together.
Conflict management isn’t a strength for many people because it’s not something we’ve been actively taught to do or seen modeled for us when we were growing up. Be kind to yourself when you’re learning a new skill; it takes courage to show up deliberately differently in the world. But if you want to make a change, you will need to show up differently.
Parents out there, you’ve got this. Taking the time now to change the dynamics of the relationship you share with your rangatahi is a gift that will continue to grow throughout the years in front of both of you. You are worth it. They are worth it. And together you can sort it.
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