(I was listening to a leadership speaker >> ) “If you were a business manager and you said to an employee “your numbers are down. If you don't bring them up soon, I don't know what your future here will be.” Imagine that as a parent, saying something like, “Son, your grades are down. I don't know about your future with this family. We may have to put you up for adoption.”
That’s probably not gonna happen… But what’s a parent to do – when they’re frustrated or out of ideas to deal with their teen’s (o) grades; (o) crappy attitude; (o) TOO many hours gaming; (o) exploring or repeatedly using drugs or alcohol; or (o) even into depression and talking about suicide?
Well, that speaker’s prime recommendation for business leaders is empathy… And that’s exactly what you could use with your teenager!
This may sound simplistic – and if it is, that’s OK. Think about what causes or motivates any teen toward any of those actions? It’s really quite simple: they’re FEEDING their SELF-ESTEEM – even if it’s dismally low. [Yes, that DOES happen.]
Most often, they’re trying to get attention – trying to get their parents or friends/ peers or whomever to “look at me” – “see me, recognize that I’m here” – and very often, “I don’t know what’s going on in my head or in my world – so I’m just lashing out!”
Everyone wants to be heard – or listened to – EVERYONE! So your wisest course of action is to LISTEN! Experts tell us that the most powerful Sales skill, Leadership skill and Communication skill is LISTENING. And VERY probably – parenting a teen!
So how do you listen? That old standard query “how’s it going?” is just too empty and meaningless – DROP IT!
BTW - the best way to re-establish control of a discussion is to ASK A QUESTION!
Ask some more innovative questions like
· “what did you do today that you’re proud of?”
· “I’m not sure why you did that [or said that] – what did you want to accomplish?”
· “What did you fail at today?” [GREAT for general conversation – “Huh? Why would you ask that?” as well as building skills to rebound-from-defeat]
· “How can I help?”
· “I’m not sure I understand – please help me to see [or understand]”
I told you it might be simple – and fairly easy - but may require HABIT-CHANGE from you!
Also BTW – the old style commanding “because I said so” doesn’t work anymore. Why? Life has changed. They may say OK to your face, but they are FREE to do almost anything – as soon as they’re 50 yards away. And wouldn’t you rather have a kid who THINKS rather than just blindly obeys? [yes, you would, even if you deny it now!]
ASK AWAY – AND LISTEN! You’ll learn a lot – to guide your parenting – and teen!!!