Tips for Chatting with Your Teenager

TalkingwTeenCommunicating with teens can be even more difficult.

During your children’s teenage years you’ll likely encounter a period of time when it seems like you have nothing in common with each other and carrying on conversations is akin to climbing Mt. Everest. This is heavily influenced by the fact that teenagers and the adults who care for them are very different creatures and are at very different points in their lives. Understanding those differences will help open the lines of communication between you and the teen in your life.

Check out these ideas for ways to get teens talking:

  1. Create a topic jar. A topic jar is a jar that you fill with different pieces of paper containing conversation topics. Each night at dinner a different person gets to choose a slip of paper from the jar and read it aloud. The reader gets to start the conversation. For example, the slip of paper could say, “Tell about something that surprised you today”.
  2. Ask open-ended questions. By asking questions that cannot be answered with only a yes or no, you are opening the door for your teenager to say more than a couple of words in reply to you. Try to avoid grilling her and stay away from asking questions like, “How was your day?” Her answer will most likely be a one word answer to these type of questions. Instead, say something like, “Tell me about your day.”
  3. Talk about topics she likes. Often teens feel like they are misunderstood by their parents. Instead of trying to get her involved in whatever you want to talk about, try talking about something that you know she likes. If she is an avid soccer player then ask her if she heard about the latest soccer match between Spain and Italy. She will probably be stunned that you even know that Spain and Italy recently had a soccer match and might actually want to talk about it. Once the door is open she may continue to talk about other things that are on her mind.
  4. Schedule some one on one time with her. Take her out to her favorite restaurant with just the two of you. If that is too expensive, just go for dessert and linger over coffee. Do something that she enjoys, like going to a local soccer match. Sharing these moments with her will give her the opportunity to talk to you while you are both relaxed and alone.
  5. Listen more than you speak. Every minute of your time together with her doesn’t have to be filled with idle chit chat. If you are trying to get someone to talk, leaving some silence will give them the opportunity to fill that silence with conversation.
  6. Be patient with your teen. If she is going through a rough time with her boyfriend or her other friends at school it may be difficult for her to talk about. Give her opportunities to broach the subject with you, but don’t try to force her to talk to you. That will only result in her becoming more stubborn and closed off.
  7. Put yourself in her shoes. Teenagers think that their parents and caregivers don’t understand them. Try to resist saying things like, “I understand what you are going through because I was a teenager once too you know”. Every generation has their own obstacles to overcome, and you can’t know what she is going through until she tells you. Really try to imagine how you would feel if you were in her shoes going through what she is going through.
  8. Don’t try to fix her. Parents and caregivers often try to fix a situation before they even understand it. Everyone is busy, but make time to hear her out. Don’t jump in and offer advice until it’s asked for. The only thing you should be doing while she is talking is nodding and saying the occasional, “hmm” or “I see” to indicate you are actively listening. This part is very difficult, but she needs to feel heard. Imagine how it would feel if you were sharing one of your problems and the person kept interrupting you to offer advice. Would you enjoy that?
  9. Try to be her soft place to fall, not a road block. Teenagers are faced with a lot of peer pressure. Amazingly enough, teens will come to the right decision most of the time if given the chance. Comfort her if she’s had a fight with a friend or if she breaks up with her boyfriend, but don’t condemn the boyfriend or friend. Anything negative that you say now will come back to haunt you when she gets back together with her boyfriend or the next time that her friend comes over to spend the night.
  10. Only offer your opinion when she asks for it. If you are lucky enough to get your teen talking, don’t interrupt with your opinions. Telling her what you would do isn’t going to help because she will remind you that you and she are nothing alike. Teens are trying to break away and prove their individuality. If she asks for your advice, start by asking her what she has considered so far. This will give you an idea of where her head is and you can act accordingly. Avoid lectures at all costs.

Source: Babysitting.net

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Rebellious Teens: Tips to Avoid Fighting with Your Teen

TeenangerWhen you’re raising a teenager, your house can feel like a war-zone that’s scattered with potential land mines masquerading as casual questions. Every interaction can feel like it has the potential to blow up in your respective faces, leaving parents wondering what the safest course of action is in terms of avoiding an argument.

During the tumultuous teenage years, these are 10 of the most reliable ways to avoid fighting with your child.

  1. Establish Rational Boundaries – During adolescence, your teen is revisiting the same mindset of early toddlerhood that leaves her looking for ways to test boundaries as a means of asserting her independence from you. Making sure that she knows some boundaries cannot be challenged lays a foundation for calm, rational interaction. Just be sure before you make those rules that you understand your teen’s need for a reasonable amount of independence, and avoid overly harsh authoritarian rules that leave no room for such expression.
  2. Shift Your Perspective – As an adult parent of a teenager, it can be difficult to remember your own battles during the tender years leading up to adulthood. Before flying off of the proverbial handle, try to remember how you felt as a teen, so that you can see things from your own teenager’s perspective.
  3. Refuse to Escalate the Situation – When you’re standing face to face with a raging, screaming teen that pays no heed to the feelings of anyone around her as she expresses her frustration, it’s easy to fall into the trap of shouting right back at her. By maintaining your composure and refusing to let the situation escalate into a full-on altercation, you’re effectively maintaining control of the confrontation without adding fuel to the fire.
  4. Practice Good Listening Skills – Sometimes a teen feels as if he’s not being truly heard and in response will lash out with anger, when all he really wants is to know that his viewpoints and opinions are being listened to. Taking the time to ask your child how he feels and actually listening to the answer he gives can diffuse many arguments before they start.
  5. Create a “No Judgment” Zone for Tricky Discussions – Teenagers face a variety of difficult choices and situations, and those who feel as if they have nowhere to turn for advice due to a fear of parental judgment or punishment can internalize that stress, leading to nasty arguments borne of frustration. Making sure that your child knows she can safely approach you with difficult questions can eliminate that frustration, making for a more peaceful environment within your home.
  6. Know When to Compromise – As a parent, it’s often difficult to admit when you’re being unreasonable and concede an argument, or at least to make compromises when you’ve reached an impasse. Mastering the art of a sane compromise with your teen, however, is the key to keeping a tense discussion from escalating.
  7. Understand When to Walk Away – When you can’t hold on to your temper, it’s okay to walk away. If you ascribe to a philosophy of walking away to let your temper cool, though, it’s essential that you afford your teenager the same respect. Resist the temptation to follow her in order to continue a diatribe; it’ll only lead to an even nastier confrontation.
  8. Actively Avoid Triggers – There are some subjects that bring out a passionate reaction in everyone, and those triggers differ from one person to the next. Your teenager is no different, and you know the things that will upset her before you discuss them. Avoid the subjects you know will upset your child, especially if there’s no real reason for discussing them.
  9. Refuse to Reward the Silent Treatment – The silent treatment is infuriating for anyone, but it’s important that you not reward that behavior from your teen. Attempting to draw him out with false cheerfulness or prodding him to talk will only blow up in your face, so let him stew without interference for a while.
  10. Avoid Drawing Comparisons – Telling your teenager that you never acted the way he does, or illustrating just how much more tolerant of a parent you are because you don’t punish him the way you would have been punished for behaving in such a manner serves absolutely no productive purpose. Remember that your teen is trying to establish himself as a separate entity from you; drawing comparisons, even when you’re just looking for common ground, can ultimately be counterproductive. 

Making a concerted effort to foster an open, honest relationship with your teen can make it easier to avoid the worst arguments, but the occasional disagreement is pretty much par for the course. Rather than dwelling on an argument after it happens, try to think about how you could have handled it differently so that you can apply that knowledge the next time negotiations become tense.

Source:  Babysitting.net

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Five Myths About Communicating with Your Teen

TalkingWTeen5Teens are mysterious creatures.  They seem to move from child to young adult almost overnight.  Parents of teens frequently find themselves irritated by the things they say and the way they act.  You may be trying to make sense of the chaos of adolescence, but it can be a mistake to judge them too quickly.

Here are a few myths about teenagers and how to be sure you dispel them.

My teen doesn’t care about my feelings.  The words your teen uses might lead you to feel unloved by him, however, the truth is that he does care about you a great deal.  Children from around age 11 and up are going through many changes.  Some are physical in nature, but there are also many emotional shifts.  Your child is growing up, learning a lot and realizing that at some point he is going to have to live a life apart from you.  He is attempting to assert his independence from you and is at times unsure of how to do this appropriately.  He will attempt many things, including talking back and disregarding your feelings.  Your teen actually cares a great deal about your feelings and is looking for reassurance that it is ok for him to separate from you in some ways.  While it may not be acceptable for him to talk to you in a disrespectful way, it’s important to talk to and treat your teen like an adult as much as you can.  How do you respond to other adults when they say hurtful things to you?

My teenager is lazy. While some teens have better work ethic than others, the adjective “lazy” is not an accurate description of most teens.  When motivated, a teen can do amazing things; even a teen who plays video games for too many hours a day can be inspired to do amazing things.  The key term here is motivation.  Finding what motivates your teen is important, and may be the only way to get him to get off the couch and help around the house.  The best way to motivate a teen is to give him ownership of the project.  If you expect him to help keep the house clean, then he needs to feel that he has a vested interest in the home.  Letting him have input on where furniture goes, what carpet is picked out or what color the walls are can go further in investing your child in the home than you think.  There is nothing wrong with offering incentives for your child to complete tasks, whether monetary or relationship based.  However, nagging and hounding your teen will NOT create motivation.

My teen never listens to my advice.  Teenagers are going though many changes and are trying to find their identity outside of their parents view.  Your teen is most likely listening to you, but greatly wants to gain an independent life. He is afraid that following your advice will lead him to being dependent on you for a long time.  Parents of teens have to walk a very thin line between giving advice and telling the child what to do.  If your teen is still coming to you for advice, count yourself lucky, because that often stops at some point in the adolescent years too.  When your child tells you a story or shares an issue he is facing, do not jump in and tell him how to fix the problem.  Step back and just listen, ask questions to clarify and then validate the feelings he might be having about the situation.  Once he has finished the story, you can ask him if he wants your advice.  He may say no, in which case you thank him for telling you and let him know you are there if he wants to talk about it further.  If he says he wants your advice, give it with caution, understanding the best way for him to learn is if he helps to come up with the solution.  Because of this, aiding your child through questions can be the most helpful.  Once the advice is given, it is his hands.  He needs to be given the freedom to choose what he will do with your suggestions.

My teen does not want to spend time with me anymore.  While it is very true that as your child gets older he will spend less and less time with you, it is far from the truth that your teen does not want to spend time with you.  Most teens have more activities outside of the home as they get older and their interests change drastically, sometimes from one day to the next.  The way they talk might even change.  All these adjustments mean that you will understand him less and less each day.  It is not that he wants to spend less time with you; it is that he perceives there are fewer things he has in common with you.  Making an effort to understand the culture and how it changes from day to day can greatly improve the time you spend together because you will have more in common with him.  The truth is that he still craves the time he gets to spend with his mom or dad, but realizes often unconsciously that he needs to pull away from you too.

It is too late to build good communication habits in my teen. It is never too late to teach and model healthy communication habits.  You may feel that the habits both you and your child have are already ingrained in your mind and will never change, but that simply is not true.  It takes small but measurable changes in your behavior to effectively help your teen communicate better.  Your teen is likely looking for someone to work to understand him, even if that person never fully can.

Raising a teenager can be a maddening adventure, but it can also be touching.  To see the child that was once so little and helpless becoming an adult can be overwhelming.  Sometimes parents want to hold onto the little child they once knew.  Unfortunately, attempting to hold on by treating the young adult like you did when he was little can cause a great deal of friction between you both.  It is a difficult process to communicate with a teenager, but when done with respect and understanding it can be a less frustrating phase.

Source:  Go Nannies

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Civility in the Digital Age! Can’t We Learn to Be Nice to Each Other?

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We hear about bullets that kill people. Gun control is a topic that is not going away. However there is another type of bullet that can ruin lives in a different form–and can be just as deadly. Cyber-bullets.

Sadly, hearing about online attacks by and between kids has become almost commonplace these days. But attacks against adults are an epidemic onto themselves. As someone who was a target, I know this first-hand, but it’s amazing that far too few people understand the extent to which online hostility and attacks impacts adults as well.

Andrea Weckerle, both through CiviliNation, the non-profit she founded, and her new book Civility in the Digital Age: How Companies and People can Triumph Over Haters, Trolls, Bullies, and Other Jerks is trying to change that. (Disclosure: I serve as an Advisor to CiviliNation.)

Her book outlines the problems we see online (the real-life examples she provides are often raw and hard-hitting), and also offers solutions in the form of best practices and techniques.

She starts by explaining why measuring and monitoring one’s online reputation is important, and breaks down how to do that. She also goes into considerable detail about what types of conflict we’re likely to encounter online (these can range from one-on-one interpersonal conflict to conflict with people who are pseudonymous or anonymous, to online lynch mobs), as well as who the most common troublemakers are (cyberbullies, online harassers and defamers, trolls, sockpuppets, and a host of difficult people). Of particular interest is the information about anger management, which includes insights into how to manage one’s own anger online and how to deal with those who are aggressively spouting off, both which are super important in the hyper-intense online environment. The chapter on conflict resolution skills and strategies get into nitty-gritty how-tos.

But it’s the chapter “30-Day Pan for better Conflict Management Online” that provides detailed information on how to put knowledge into action. Day 1, for example, explains how to start your conflict inventory and assessment, while Day 11 and Day 12 discuss choosing an online monitoring tool and setting up an online conflict tracking system, Meanwhile, Day 17, covers how to determine whether you need to bury or remove negative information about you online, and Day 29 talks about how to simulate an online conflict crisis.

“Civility in the Digital Age” is a serious book, but it’s also very hopeful. In the last chapter, Weckerle quotes serial entrepreneur and environmentalist Paul Hawken who says “If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.” Weckerle writes, “Hawken’s words are relevant to the online world, where you see both the best and the worst of humanity expressed. But if you’ve read this book, it’s clear you’re not willing to turn a blind eye to the egregious behavior found online—you want to make things better!”

And don’t we all want to do that?

In my opinion, if you are online today, you need to read this book.

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Spring Break: Teen Drinking Facts

TeenDrinking5Spring break is around the corner and unfortunately many teens look forward to getting away and have a few drinks–maybe a few too many!  Not to mention many are underage to be consuming alcohol.

You probably see and hear a lot about alcohol—from TV, movies, music, and your friends. But what are the real facts about underage alcohol use?

Myth Alcohol isn’t as harmful as other drugs.
FACT Alcohol increases your risk for many deadly diseases, such as cancer. Drinking too much alcohol too quickly can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can kill you.

Myth Drinking is a good way to loosen up at parties.
FACT Drinking is a dumb way to loosen up. It can make you act silly, say things you shouldn’t say, and do things you wouldn’t normally do (like get into fights).

Myth Drinking alcohol will make me cool.
FACT There’s nothing cool about stumbling around, passing out, or puking on yourself. Drinking alcohol also can cause bad breath and weight gain.

Myth All of the other kids drink alcohol. I need to drink to fit in.
FACT If you really want to fit in, stay sober. Most young people don’t drink alcohol. Research shows that more than 70 percent of youth age 12 to 20 haven’t had a drink in the past month.1
 
Myth I can sober up quickly by taking a cold shower or drinking coffee.
FACT On average, it takes 2 to 3 hours for a single drink to leave the body. Nothing can speed up the process, not even drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, or “walking it off.”

Myth Adults drink, so kids should be able to drink too.
FACT A young person’s brain and body are still growing. Drinking alcohol can cause learning problems or lead to adult alcoholism. People who begin drinking by age 15 are five times more likely to abuse or become dependent on alcohol than those who begin drinking after age 20.2
 
Myth Beer and wine are safer than liquor.
FACT Alcohol is alcohol. It can cause you problems no matter how you consume it. One 12-ounce bottle of beer or a 5-ounce glass of wine (about a half cup) has as much alcohol as a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor. Alcopops—sweet drinks laced with malt liquor—often contain more alcohol than beer!

Myth I can drink alcohol and not have any problems.
FACT If you’re under 21, drinking alcohol is a big problem: It’s illegal. If caught, you may have to pay a fine, perform community service, or take alcohol awareness classes. Kids who drink also are more likely to get poor grades in school and are at higher risk for being a crime victim.

Sources

RESPECT: Is this a word Teen’s Are Not Familiar with Today?

TeenRespectA word that needs to come back into this generation of teenagers.

As a child approaches adolescence, the natural exploration of boundaries and the need to assert his own independence often leaves his parents feeling as if all respect between them has dissipated. Arguing, defiance and even foul language are normal, though admittedly incredibly frustrating, aspects of parenting a teenager.

While regaining a teen’s respect may seem like an impossible proposition, there are ways that you can restore some semblance of balance and civility to your relationship as he gets older. While patience and a refusal to reward bad behavior are the keys to maintaining a measure of order in your home as the parent of teenagers, there are some methods that can supplement your efforts along the way.

Show Respect
In order to maintain your teenager’s respect, you’ll need to make sure that you show the same measure of respect in return. If you resort to shouting, threats and anger to get your point across, your teen isn’t likely to have much respect for your pleas for civility. Demanding that your adolescent child blindly follows your directions and falls in line with your rules while refusing to show any sort of respect for their own valid feelings and needs is far more likely to backfire than to inspire
rank-and-file obedience.

Set Reasonable Boundaries
Just as younger children need to know what the boundaries of acceptable behavior are in order to stay within them, so will your teen. The difference between them is that your teenager will need a bit of independence to make his own choices. Allowing him a reasonable amount of space to explore the world as he matures will allow your teen to make mistakes that will serve as learning experiences, and not feel as if he’s being stifled by the demands of adults that he views as out of touch with the world. While you certainly don’t want to encourage dangerous experimentation or condone bad decisions that will affect the rest of his life, it is wise to give him ample space to make a few minor mistakes he can learn from.
Maintain an Open Line of Communication
When a teen feels as if you’re completely out of touch and aren’t willing to listen to him, he’s not likely to approach you with his concerns or seek advice from you about difficult situations he faces. Making sure that you establish and maintain an open line of judgment-free communication reinforces the idea that he can still come to you when he’s in trouble, and that you will respect his growing maturity. In return, your teen is more likely to extend the same respect to you.

Try Not to Feel Hurt or Rejected
It’s normal to feel as if you’re being rejected by your teenager when he seems to constantly choose his friends and peers over you, but it’s important to remember that it’s a natural part of growing up. Feeling that pain is understandable and acceptable, but it’s not a good idea to act on your hurt feelings by lashing out or establishing excessively restrictive rules that force him to spend his free time with you. Forced time is not quality time, and will almost certainly end in a showdown.

Realize That “Do as I Say, Not as I Do” is Counter-Productive
The desire to ensure that your child doesn’t make the same mistakes you have or exhibit the same problem personality traits can create an environment in which you expect your child to follow your instructions while you openly flout them. The “do as I say, not as I do” approach isn’t effective when children are young, but it can truly come back to haunt you when a teenager accuses you of hypocrisy and unfairness. Try to model the behavior you want your teen to exhibit to the best of your abilities to avoid these altercations and encourage him to respect you.

Give Them Responsibilities
Kids who have no responsibilities and a sense of entitlement that leads them to feel as if the world owes them everything have no respect for anyone or anything. Making sure that your children have some responsibilities, both financial and in the way of chores or daily tasks, may not seem like a recipe for respect on the surface, however the qualities that having some responsibility instills naturally extend themselves to having a bit more respect than their overindulged peers.

Recognize the Things They Do
While you’re delegating responsibility and setting reasonable boundaries, make sure that you take the time to acknowledge and openly appreciate the things that your teenager does. Feeling as if his efforts to abide by the rules and contribute to the household are completely unnoticed or unappreciated doesn’t inspire your teen to keep meeting expectations that he knows you won’t acknowledge anyway. Take a moment to thank your teen for helping out or behaving well, and let him know that the freedom he is afforded is directly tied to the fact that his good behavior at home indicates to you that he can be trusted.

Source: Aupair Jobs

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Teen Dating Violence: What is Sexual Abuse

LoveisRespectFebruary is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

Parents, teens, educators need to take the time to learn more about teen dating abuse.

Sexual abuse refers to any action that pressures or coerces someone to do something sexually they don’t want to do. It can also refer to behavior that impacts a person’s ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs, including oral sex, rape or restricting access to birth control and condoms.Some examples of sexual assault and abuse are:

  • Unwanted kissing or touching.
  • Unwanted rough or violent sexual activity.
  • Rape or attempted rape.
  • Refusing to use condoms or restricting someone’s access to birth control.
  • Keeping someone from protecting themselves from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Sexual contact with someone who is very drunk, drugged, unconscious or otherwise unable to give a clear and informed “yes” or “no.”
  • Threatening or pressuring someone into unwanted sexual activity.

Keep in Mind

  • Everyone has the right to decide what they do or don’t want to do sexually. Not all sexual assaults are violent “attacks.”
  • Most victims of sexual assault know the assailant.
  • Both men and women can be victims of sexual abuse.
  • Both men and women can be perpetrators of sexual abuse.
  • Sexual abuse can occur in same-sex and opposite-sex relationships.
  • Sexual abuse can occur between two people who have been sexual with each other before, including people who are married or dating.

What to Do

If you have been sexually assaulted, first get to a safe place away from the attacker. You may be scared, angry and confused, but remember the abuse was in no way your fault. You have options. You can:

  • Contact Someone You Trust. Many people feel fear, guilt, anger, shame and/or shock after they have been sexually assaulted. Having someone there to support you as you deal with these emotions can make a big difference. It may be helpful to speak with a counselor, someone at a sexual assault hotline or a support group. Get more tips for building a support system.
  • Report What Happened to the Police. If you do decide to report what happened, you will have a stronger case if you do not alter or destroy any evidence. This means don’t shower, wash your hair or body, comb your hair or change your clothes, even if that is hard to do. If you are nervous about going to the police station, it may help to bring a friend with you. There may also be sexual assault advocates in your area who can assist you and answer your questions.
  • Go to an Emergency Room or Health Clinic. It is very important for you to seek health care as soon as you can after being assaulted. You will be treated for any injuries and offered medications to help prevent pregnancy and STIs.

Remember there is always help. For more information or to find out about available resources in your area, chat with a peer advocate.

Source:  Love is Respect