DEAR COACH RICHIE: If you were disappointed in your pre-teen’s behavior and you want them to know how you feel, but knowing it could escalate into argument when you try to talk about it, would you try to get through by sending them a text explaining your disappointment? Will things sink in a little bit more for them, allowing them time to digest, without having them get instantly defensive and argumentative? I want to have an open line of communication, but sometimes it’s a struggle and we both end up getting very frustrated. I could really use some advice if I should be texting my teens instead of talking to them.
COACH RICHIE: If it were me I wouldn’t be texting my teens instead of talking to them. They get defensive because parents are typically confrontational and they don’t have any other way to defend themselves because they have not yet mastered communication skills and how to control emotions. That is why it is either hat or love, sad or happy. So you need to meet him where he is at. I would do the following. Tell them you would like to have a chat. Some place out of the home or in the car. Neutral territory. The. Follow this process. Think of 3 things that he thinks he may dislike about your parenting .
Then start the conversation by apologizing for one of them. Yes I know it seems nuts. But that is the only way to reach them without it ending in a fight. Honey, I know I make you frustrated when I don’t listen to you (insert your child’s issue with you). Then ask him if that is true? Give him some space to answer. Then you may say something like this. How bad does it get for you when I don’t listen to you? (again insert the issue he has with you here). Some space. Your job is just to listen without denying, judging or advising. Let him answer the question.
Then wrap it up with. Would you be able to help me be a better parent by giving me some advice on what I can do so you don’t get so frustrated with me? More space and let him answer. That is it. Have some conversations like this over the course of several weeks without saying anything. Just listen and be attentive to his needs and the ship will turn. It takes patience to reconnect with teens and understanding their challenging world is the first step. You can love them or control them but you can’t do both.🤘
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