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:

How Children Evolved to Whine  The New York Times
Online advice on parenting  New Straits Times

Natural Disasters: Help Your Child Cope With The Anxiety

How on earth can you help your family cope with... Read More

Are Public Schools A Menace To Your Kids? -- 11 Danger Signals

Parents, do you have children who do poorly in school,... Read More

The Family Guy - Parenting From a Single Dads Perspective

It was a hot summer day in august and The... Read More

When Your Chicks Leave the Nest

When my son was 18 (and had finished school), he... Read More

Why Consistency Is The Key To Raising Well-behaved Kids

Being consistent when children are less than perfect can make... Read More

STOP Parental Alienation Syndrome before It Gets a Chance to START

Parental Alienation Syndrome was probably first identified and codified by... Read More

Promoting Your Childs Heart Health

Cardiovascular endurance is one of the five health-related components of... Read More

Aquini Potty Training Dolls - A Great Tool For Potty Training!

Corolle Paul or Emma Drink-and-Wet SET potty dollsThis is the... Read More

The Parent Teen Relationship: How Effective is Yours?

It was the homework that did it. Each night became... Read More

Thirteen Values You Can Teach Through Homework

Are you a parent concerned about passing values on to... Read More

How To Teach Your Children Love

I was in the life insurance sales industry for over... Read More

Send Your Child to College FREE!

College is one of the largest expenses through the course... Read More

Role Models for Your Teen

By the time your children reach their teens, there is... Read More

Busy, Working Parents --- 22 Ways To Homeschool Your Kids

If you're a single parent or a married couple on... Read More

Sanity Savers For Busy Mums Page

Question 1 "How do I get more time to play?"... Read More

Teaching Your Children About the Value of Money

We take it for granted that children know how money... Read More

Teach Children The Skills Of Optimism

Optimists do better academically, socially and enjoy better health than... Read More

Friendships - Helping Children Develop Friendship Skills

Reasearch into children's friendships shows that those children who are... Read More

Help Your Children to Love Reading

It is so important to create an environment that promotes... Read More

Diagnosing ADHD in Children, an Introduction

Everyone in a private practice setting who works with children... Read More

How to Deal with Your Child?s Inappropriate Behaviour

Children bombard parents with many challenging behaviours. We are delighted... Read More

Picky Eaters - The Dawn of Understanding

"In general my children refuse to eat anything that hasn't... Read More

Encourage Your Children Potential By Your Modeling

All responsible parents would want to support their children, find... Read More

Childhood Obesity

Economist John Kenneth Galbraith has said that more people die... Read More

Raising a Self-Sufficient Teen

Teens don't learn responsibility overnight. If you haven't been working... Read More