This week on the blog I am continuing to answer some of your parenting questions. This next one is a simple, but excellent question that every parent can relate to.
For most parents the most difficult times are during the toddler and the teen years. One might argue that teens are even tougher to handle than toddlers!
Have you heard the phrase, “raising teenagers is like nailing jello to a tree.” Sometimes things go terribly wrong. Sometimes it can feel impossible. Here is the question that I am taking a look at today.
“How do I get things back on track when things have gone wrong?”
Attachment parenting is something that I have been studying the last few years. It has benefited my relationship with my kids and also assisted me in helping families in my practice.
Attachment parenting focuses on the nurturing connection that parents can develop with their children. That nurturing connection is viewed as the ideal way to raise secure, independent, and empathetic children.
Basically, nothing is more important than your relationship with your teenager. He needs to know that no matter how he acts, no matter how bad the family fights get, you are committed to him and to staying connected to him.
Here are a couple ideas to consider next time things get heated between you and your teen.
Take a parent time out.
This is always an option. No one makes good decisions when their emotions are on high alert, not adults and certainly not teens. When you regulate your emotions and keep your cool your teen will take note. It is rarely productive to lock horns and do the power struggle dance. Take some time to cool down. “You know I think I need to take some time to calm down. I love you and I don’t want to do this right now.”
Role model the behavior you want to see in your teen.
Let’s be honest, sometimes when our kids push our buttons we end up acting more immature and childish than them. Bite your tongue, avoid mocking and sarcastic responses and don’t call him the names you are thinking in your head. Yes, I know you have had those thoughts. 🙂 Be the first to apologize if you have said something hurtful or done something unkind. Walk your talk and your teen may just follow along.
Empathize with your teens feelings.
This takes practice to do in a genuine and supportive way. You can do this even if he doesn’t admit to being sad or angry. “I know it must be frustrating for you that you can’t go out with your friends tonight. I really do want to help you get what you want, but we need to work together on a compromise” Letting him know that you understand his feelings can calm him down and relieve some of the pressure.
Give him some time and space.
Sometimes this is the most respectful way to relate to your teen, who may no longer be open to hearing your words. You can always return to the conversation later, but don’t leave it for too long. Unresolved fights only create more distance in your relationship. “This is a difficult conversation for us. I think we both need some time to think before we keep talking. I am going to come back in a few hours and we try again.”
Get down on his level.
This is part of attachment parenting with younger kids. You get down on the floor with your toddler, on his level and relate to him there. It applies to the teen years as well. Go to him, wherever he is, on his turf so to speak. This might mean talking to him when he is open to the conversation, even if it is 11:30pm at night. Don’t always take the approach that your teen needs to come to you on your terms. Show him that you will do whatever you can to maintain your connection to him.