[ By Evelyn Petersen ]
1. Let Teens Know You Are Willing To Just Plain Listen to their ideas without making judgments. Talking is a way they think things out. You don’t have to agree with all your teen’s ideas, but you show respect when you allow them to express themselves. Many things loom large in a teenager’s life – school exams, sports, being accepted by peer, and planning for the future. When you take these issues seriously, they will feel your support.
2. Be Accessible. Teens often blurt things out or want to talk at strange or inconvenient times. Be ready to listen anytime, anywhere. We know that being in listening mode is not possible 24 hours a day, but we still need to show them that we are open to listening when when they need us. This time may come when we are on the phone or while we are making dinner; get off the phone, turn off the stove and give your teenage your undivided attention.
3. Use Questions Sparingly. Resist the urge to know Everything your teen is thinking or planning. Show some trust. Sometimes, we need to just be quiet. If your teenage does not want to talk, you need to respect that. Do your best not to push. Just keep the lines of communication open by saying, ” OK, but I am here when you need me to listen. ”
4. Try Not To Be Defensive. When they make generalization or critical remarks, don’t take them personally. The comments are opportunities for discussion. Negotiate when situations warrant. Take time to get good information before giving your teen an ultimatum. When the answer is a clear ” no”, have a valid reason other than ” because I say so “.
5. Fight Fair. We hear this often when discussing marriage, but it is even truer when dealing with your teenage. Don’t bring up the past. Don’t embarrass them in front of their friends or siblings. If you get too heated to discuss a problem, don’t pursue the discussion. Take some time off and discuss it when you can be calm.
6. Give Straightforward Advice Or Feedback On Important Issues such as sex, drinking and drugs, but don’t keep repeating it. They need to hear you and they do hear you, even if they pretend indifference. Remember, someitmes your teens want you to say ” no “, so they will have an excuse to give their friends.
7. Have Clear Rules With Few Surprises. The consequences for unaccpetable behaviour should be known ahead of time. When you teen is caught breaking a stated rule, you don’t need to berate him or her as a person. Just follow through on the prestated consquence.
8. Talk About Yourself Sometimes Instead Of The Teen. They hate to be the only topic under discussion. Tell them about your own teen memories and mistakes.
9. Be A Good Role Model. Life values are ” caught”, not taught. Your teens need your ” perosnal best ” lived out each day. When you ” blow it ” with them, your spouse, or your friends, take your share of the blame. Let your teen hear and see you apologize.
10. Set Up and Use Family Meetings To Ful Advantage. Get input from each person on rules, curfews, etc. as well as on the consequences of breaking rules. Sign agreements, try them out; modify as needed.
11. Show Intimacy. Teens are still kids inside; they need the warm feelings of belonging that come from good touches and hugs.
12. Give Lots Of Praise And Positive Feedback. Teens need to hear the ” good stuff ” just like the rest of us. They need to know you love them for who they are inside, as well as what they can do.
13. Give Them Responsibilities With Every Privilege; that’s real life.
14. Teach them To Make Decisions and make them accept the consequences of each choice they make.
15. Teach Them To Deal With Information. Teach them to think critically about what they see or hear, as well as how to sort out and prioritize information.
16. Take Time To Relax And Have Fun. Teens need to learn positive ways to manage stress; enjoying each other will build lifetime relationships.
17. Make Them Earn What They Want, and know the difference between wants and needs. Instant gratification does not teach life skills.