Connecting with your Pre-teen-Teenage Child: Notice the good things they try do. Don’t wait for them to be in People Magazine!
Do you have trouble talking with you preteen-teenage daughter or son for sustained amounts of time? If you answered yes then let’s look at possible options to have conversations for a sustained amount of time.
First, catch them being good. Many parents had communication with their parents based on what needed to be done, what you were doing wrong and what you needed to do better. When you did well, you likely received praise for an A grade on a test, a great project in art or a significant victory in sports. Ask yourself, how often did you get noticed for effort, putting your all into something or getting an average result for a maximum effort. We live in a praised based society so hard work doesn’t always pay off in terms of feedback, especially if we fall short of our parents’ expectations.
Try to do the following:
1) Praise effort; 2) Catch your child being good; 3) Ask how they are doing without raising suspicion about a project you know is due that week; 4) If you are faced with situation that must be punished negotiate with him or her about the punishment. If they buy into it’s more like to be an experience they learn from; 5) Act don’t yak or lecture. If a punishment for coming home is set up ahead of time stick with the plan don’t lecture because that sends the message that he/she can get away with what they’ve done; 6) Remind your pre-teen-teenage child you love him or her regardless of the circumstances. For example, “Johnny, when you come home late it makes me mad because I worry. I will always love you regardless of the mistakes you make.” Unconditional acceptance is always the best way to plant seeds for open conversation with your child.
Submitted by Ken Barrett, MSW, LCSW