Having a teenager in the family is tricky for all concerned.
I understand, because like you I have children (now grown up) but still I remember some of the instances where they were upset/stroppy and I could have handled things so much better, if only I’d known then what I know now!
Being a teenager is tough, hormones are running rife & their intellectual & reasoning skills are still developing, is it little wonder they often feel unhappy & retreat to their rooms?
So what happens when something does upset them? As parents/ carers in we step and try the ‘solve’ their problem, it’s a natural response.
You may find yourself helping saying something along the lines of:
“Oh don’t worry about Johnny, he didn’t mean to say those things to you, it will be fine in the morning and you can always spend time with Charlie from football instead.”
Or, “of course you are not rubbish at maths, I will help you, it was one of my strong subjects.”
So that’s that sorted, no doubt your youngster feels so much better for your advice!
And we take this as a confirmed job well done when they disappear back to their room. And our work is done…
..Or is it?
Maybe your offspring didn’t want you to ‘solve’ their problem, maybe they just needed you to listen while they vented and tell you how they felt.
By offering our own solutions we are disconnecting ourselves from our childs thoughts & feelings. This can often result in your youngster just not bothering to tell you what’s going on in their lives, because in their eyes what is the point “you don’t understand me”
Try this instead
Stop what you are doing, pay full attention & really listen to what your child has to say.
Repeat back a key part of what you’ve heard
ie. I can see you are angry/upset/ about what Johnny said to you, it can’t have been easy to hear that.
Pause and wait (this is key) give them time to respond.
They may wish to continue the conversation or that may be enough for them to feel ‘heard & understood’
Don’t be disheartened if this doesn’t appear to have the desired effect for the first second or third times! Persevere using the same listening method again.
And as a bonus, you are coaching them on how to listen & respond to others.
Finally, remember to be calm and understanding, listen to what your child is saying and never assume you know how they feel.