Unilateral Disarmament - The First Step to Improving Communications with Your Teenagers

Many times, we are so conditioned in how we speak that we do not realize whether or not we are effectively communicating with our teens. This is especially true when they upset us.

To ensure that you are fostering an environment that will encourage your teenager to talk to you, as opposed to fearing you, the first step is to evaluate your communication style. How you express yourself and what you say to your teens, especially when you are angry, can inhibit your relationship with them. Reacting by shouting short sarcastic phrases will usually turn off most people, including our teenagers.

The following are twelve examples of statements and questions that you should avoid saying:

1. When I was your age

2. What part of the word "NO" don't you understand

3. Because I said so

4. Who pays the mortgage around here?

5. You're NOT going out dressed like that

6. What do you see in him, you can do better

7. You kids have it so easy today

8. I didn't say that

9. You live under my roof, you live by my rules

10. Are you PMSing?

11. When are you going to grow up?

12. This conversation is over

Activity:

Think through the things that you say that are similar to the above, and create a list. Then, meet with your teen and ask her for her input. Explain that you are doing this because you love her and want her to trust you and to not fear coming to you to discuss things that are important to her. Go over the list and then ask your teen to add any statements that you may have missed. For example, you can say, "Tell me the things that I say to you that you feel are hurtful; or prevent you from wanting to talk to me about important issues." Add them to the list and make a mental note of them. Then, ask your teen to tell you when you react to her behavior and use any of those phrases. Stress that improved communications is a "two way street" and you are going to do your part to make things better. Then add that you also expect her to do her part, as it will take both your efforts to improve communications.

What to do

Remember to have a "thick skin" and thank her for her feedback when she provides it ? even if you are angry. The best way to change this reactionary behavior is to try and think before you react, and talk more constructively to your teenager. Think of how you would have to react at work if a subordinate or coworker did something to upset you. As angry as you might be, you would strive to act professional because your job depended on it. If you do react and your daughter brings it to your attention, thank her and then discuss the issue more constructively because your relationship depends on it.

You also need to set guidelines with your teen, instead of making rigid rules that will alienate her and create a vicious cycle of poor communicating and hard feelings.

Unilateral disarmament is the first step in demonstrating to your teen that you are serious about improving communications with her. When you lead by example, you are establishing the foundation and setting your expectations. This works better that a "do as I say, not as I do!" reactionary approach which causes your teen to be more rebellious.

Copyright 2004 by V. Michael Santoro and Jennifer S. Santoro, All Rights Reserved.

This article is an excerpt from the book "Realizing the Power of Love," How a father and teenage daughter became best friends...and you can too, coauthored by V. Michael Santoro and his teenage daughter Jennifer S. Santoro. For more information visit their Web site: http://www.dads-daughters.com/

In The News:

Real time parenting  Bangalore Mirror
The Parenting Role in a Teacher  The Patriot On Sunday
Parenting During the Pandemic  News from Tulane
Pet of the Week: June 3, 2020  Kankakee Daily Journal
Conscious Parenting  Citizen Times

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: What is Impulsivity?

Impulsivity is one of the hallmarks of people with Attention... Read More

Should Your Child Watch TV News? Surprising Opinions of Top Anchors

KIDS AND THE NEWSMore than ever, children witness innumerable, sometimes... Read More

Helping Your Child to Deal with Change

Fall marks the beginning of many new things both for... Read More

Lets Not Hurry Children Through Childhood

Have you ever experienced one of those days when you... Read More

Hearing Our Seriously Distressed Adolescents

The distressed adolescent often has feelings of abandonment, emotional detachment,... Read More

The Thing with Quality Time

It's funny how people seem to think that they have... Read More

Top Seven Tips for Back-to-School Success

Parents play a critical role in their child's success. These... Read More

Understanding A Childs Beliefs, Nuturing Young Beliefs

Children are moral and make moral determinations... at least until... Read More

Advantages of Using a Board Certified Pediatrician

When a child is born, a new number is added... Read More

Homeschooling Takes Your Child Out of Public School --- A Unique Benefit

Home-schooling removes children from public school. That alone makes home-schooling... Read More

A New Idea For Kids Party Parties: Hiring A Caricaturist Can Make Your Kids Party A Real Blast!

There's a new trend for party entertainment. It seems as... Read More

Organizing a Car Wash Fundraiser

The key to a successful car wash fundraiser event is... Read More

Guide to Choosing a Computer System for Your Child

Before going further into choosing computers for children, I believe... Read More

Of Kings and Youth Leadership

(Isaiah 11:6 KJV) The wolf also shall dwell with the... Read More

Parenting Your Teenager: What Teens Say About Parents

What's hard for teenagersHaving people who don't understand you trying... Read More

Dads, Give them Household Chores

You have a chore to do around the house, and... Read More

How Often Does Child Sexual Abuse Get Reported?

Not nearly as often as it should. Most child abuse... Read More

The Most Powerful Question a Parent Can Ask?

The question I have for you drives right to the... Read More

The Theme from MASH - Suicide is Not Painless

The Theme from MASHI flipped the button on the remote... Read More

Parenting Problem? 5 Simple Things That Will Help

What is a parenting problem?Parenting is a tough job, we... Read More

How Children Can Read Faster and Better

For most children, it is easy to learn to read... Read More

How to Foster a Love of Reading and Writing in Your Child

The key to lifelong learning is reading and writing. When... Read More

Gifted Children - Getting the Balance Right

One of the challenges for parents with a gifted child... Read More

Breaking the Cycle of Emotional Blackmail

Family decision-making is an intriguing phenomenon. Many factors become part... Read More

Teenagers and What Parents Should Do About Them

Chiladult? Whatever you call them, teenagers are a changin' and... Read More