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Talking to teens
February 2, 2014, 2:38 pm

Your teens may sometimes tend to ignore you when you make a request or try to have a real conversation. This is a weapon adolescents have in their arsenal, and many use it to manipulate their parents passive-aggressively.  Here are some general guidelines on what to do in such cases.

Remove distractions: When you really want to talk with your child, stop all distractions and outside stimuli. Ask your child to turn off the TV, cell phone or computer. It is important to have them do it rather than just shutting off the TV yourself. This is especially important if your child has a hard time focusing or concentrating.
Be clear and keep your tone neutral: Be very clear about what you want to say.  It is also important to be aware not to use words that may trigger your child to shut down. Use conversation starters that invite a discussion. Changing your tone of voice might also help make your child less defensive. Remember, you want to set the stage for more open communication.

Decide the timing: Choose the time you want to talk to your child; don’t always let the time choose you. Before you do, find a quiet, private place and make sure outside stimuli are shut down. Sometimes your child can only focus on one thing at a time.

Keep it short: Don’t expect a lot back from your child, especially if you happen to have a quiet kid. Know your child and how verbal he or she is, and don’t expect more than they can give.

Say it differently: If you do the same thing over and over, you’re likely going to get the same response over and over. So say it differently and stage it differently. Maximize your child’s ability to hear you, especially if you have something negative or difficult to deliver. Really take time to think about the best way to communicate. Make sure you are calm when you talk to them, as well.

Setting limits:  Again, be calm and be explicit about what you observed. If your child has been disrespectful, you can say, “That behavior is not acceptable. It’s okay to be angry, but rude, disrespectful behavior is not okay.” Let them know what the consequences will be if they cross the line by swearing or name-calling or disobeying you. As difficult as it is, try to remain calm and matter of fact during the entire conversation.

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