Talking with your teenager, the do's and don'ts

So many parents are very frustrated with the teenage humans in their lives. They feel hopeless about being able to improve their relationship with them. They feel hopeless that their child will understand them and start to change poor behaviors that are making problems for the family. So here is some help, and if you even do a few of these things, good change will happen.

- Remember your teenager is a whole person with their own thoughts, feelings, values, hopes and dreams. Putting them in a box and denying them their own ideas about life will only be an exercise in frustration for you both. As parents it is so hard to give up our own ideas about what we want our kids to believe, and to value. It will be difficult but worth it to let your kids be who they are. We are guides, not ultimate authorities.

- Have clear expectations and house rules that are realistic and leave your teenager room to learn and grow. If all we say is no and don't we are not leaving room for conversations that can leave room for compromise and building a stronger bond with our child. When we can listen to them and their wants and needs, and help to work on compromises that help them feel heard and help us keep them safe, we win!

- Learn how to validate feelings. I am not saying you should agree with everything your teenager thinks, says, or does, but being able to recognize their feelings and not push them away or make them feel silly for how they feel. Feelings are always valid, even when we do not agree with a point of view, how someone feels about it is valid to them. By validating others, they are more willing to listen to us and try to see our side of things. Its okay to say things like, "I can see you are very mad at me right now, that's okay." Or "I can see how sad you are because you need

to spend family time, I am sorry about that but I still need you to be here with us." I have found that a lot of the time people are upset it is because they feel invalidated, which can make people feel unimportant or unloved.

- Pick your battles, don't turn everything into a power struggle. If we can be flexible and compromise on things that do not put our kids in danger, then they are more likely to listen to us when there is important things we want them to avoid. So what if they want pink hair and to wear short shorts. Or maybe they want to listen to death metal and dress all in black, who cares! Giving them their individuality helps them to see that you care about them, and makes them more open to talk about the big things like drugs and sex.

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