Have you been struggling to get through to your teenage son?
Does he seem to shut you out and be virtually non-responsive at times?
If so, there is a chance you are communicating and relating to him in ways that are pushing him away.
You may know the mistakes you are making or you may have some blind spots to discover.
Teenage boys are sensitive creatures. They are often insecure, confused about their feelings and hyper aware of feeling shame. You almost have to learn to be a teenage boy whisperer. 🙂
The good news is that these are skills any parent can develop and I can help you out!
Here are 5 common mistakes to avoid when you are trying to get through to your teenager.
1. Empty Threats
You know you have made a grave mistake as soon as the words exit your mouth. “Ok, that’s it, you are grounded for the whole summer!” or “Absolutely no video games for a month!” Oh boy, that is not going to work out well for anyone.
This usually happens when you feel like you have lost your power, nothing is working and your teenager is completely disregarding your best efforts.
Your teenager will swiftly call your bluff and you know you will be eating your words. One mistake to avoid for sure is the knee jerk reaction of empty threats.
2. Poorly Timed Sarcasm
I don’t know about you, but when I get steamed, I tend to get really snippy and sarcastic. This is not the funny, snarky, clever sarcasm that teens can appreciate. I am talking about the biting, hurtful and poorly timed words that can tear the two of you apart.
Teenagers are experts at poorly timed sarcasm and wield that sword on a daily basis. However, when you and I speak out of our mounting frustration and use sharp words as an attempt to fight back or get leverage we are losing the battle. The second mistake to avoid for certain is poorly timed sarcasm.
3. Frequent Unwelcome Lectures
There is a good chance that your teenager knows exactly how you feel about texting while driving and the vital importance of stellar grades.
For some reason, I get an image of myself at age 16 listening to my Mom drone on about something she thought was terribly important. You can tell from my face that I am completely checked out and 0% of the message is getting through.
Let’s be honest, it can be mind-numbingly frustrating to try and break through the haze and communicate with your teenager. A very common response is to simply increase the shear number of words and the number of times the message is delivered.
If you feel yourself settling in for a long monologue, remind yourself that this strategy is unlikely to produce the comprehension and connection you are looking for. The third mistake to most assuredly avoid is unwelcome lectures.
4. Increasing The Decibels (otherwise known as yelling)
When all else fails, raise your voice. Unfortunately, a lot of us learn this little unspoken platitude when our kids are just toddlers. They are running around like little dictators and we just can’t regain a sense of order. Then we raise our voices and notice that we get their attention and maybe even convince them to follow our hasty orders.
We don’t like to talk about it on Facebook or at our dinner parties, but some of our households are overflowing with shouting and verbal warfare. Any time you have to use physical force or loud voices to get a response, you know something is not functioning in your parent-child relationship.
Don’t get down on yourself though because you are most certainly not alone. Yelling is one of those little, shameful secrets that no one likes to talk about. The fourth mistake to definitely avoid is increasing the decibels.
5. Piles Of Shame & Blame
Shame is that painful feeling of humiliation when you know you have done something wrong and you genuinely feel like a terrible person.
Shaming your teen can lead to him believing that something is fundamentally wrong with him, he is a disappointment to you or even worse that you don’t love him.
How do you know when you are dishing piles of shame and blame? This might be happening if you find yourself shouting sarcastic, empty threats while delivering a lengthy, prolific lecture.
When we say and do things that humiliate our teens, make them feel small and disempower them we can be sure that we are pushing them away and diminishing the possibility for true, heartfelt communication.
A simple human truth is that when we feel bad, we do bad things and when we feel good we do good things.
“You should have listened.”
“I hope you learned your lesson.”
Or… “I told you so.”
The fifth mistake to absolutely avoid is piles of shame and blame.
Here is a final challenge for you to consider . . .
Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them become what they are capable of being. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe