Parenting teenagers can be very frustrating, but no, we are not suggesting you slap your child. We’ve developed a method called S.L.A.P. ™ for helping parents and teenagers learn and practice better communication.
Here’s how it works:
When your teen slams the bedroom door, stomps away or says something that pushes your buttons, reboot your good parent self by taking a moment to regroup. Take a walk around the block, give yourself a timeout or just close your eyes and take deep breaths. Pour yourself a glass of wine. Whatever it takes. But do not talk until you are calm and centered. Think of it as a way of taking your emotional temperature. If you’re running hot, do not talk. Tell your teen you need a few minutes to calm down and you’ll text when you’re ready to resume the conversation.
Once you have achieved some inner peace, try listening instead of talking. Listen with a fresh perspective. Try to understand their feelings without judgment. Practice active listening, letting your teen know you are receiving what they are saying. The goal is to gain insight and cultivate empathy for your teen so you can communicate from that perspective.
If you still can’t muster up any empathy, maybe you don’t have enough information yet. Ask a few questions so you get a better picture of what your teen needs from you. Ask open, leading questions that have no swear words in them and are devoid of phrases like would you like to tell me what on God’s green earth… yeah, that’s not very helpful.
Parenting is hard, and parenting teens is about as hard as it gets. Most of us make mistakes, say the wrong thing, and lecture into an empty void at some point. Don’t be afraid to practice what I like to call the parenting do-over. Just stop and say, ok, that was wrong. I would like to try that again. Your teen will respect you more for owning your lousy parenting and trying to improve. Not only that, you will be setting an example of how growth can stem from mistakes, and everyone should make them.
The goal of this strategy is to help parents cultivate empathy and insight. This can help you get past the door slamming and into a new place of mutual understanding and respect. On the other side of that slammed door is adulthood. Our job is to help our teens get there in one piece.
For additional information and to access S.L.A.P. materials, please visit our website and join our user forum dramatichangeseminars.com.
Because we can all do better.
Want more? See our new e-learning course, “S.L.A.P. ™!”