13 Sep Teen Guidance – 5 Things You Should Stop Doing Today!
A woman I was speaking to this week was sharing with me her frustration. She would do anything in her power to make sure that her daughter is not hurting or suffering, and therefore will do all she can to help when her daughter is facing a challenge. Despite all the books she has read and all of the strategies she has tried out, she still feels like she can’t get it right.
As you know by now, life with a teenager can be an ongoing ”roller-coaster” ride. And as your teenager reacts to a variety of life experiences, you want to make sure that you are there, supporting her in a way that will be both helpful and will also strengthen the connection and communication between you– not the opposite.
1. Warning, Threatening
Often when we are issuing warnings or threatening, we don’t even notice that this is what we are doing. We use sentences like:
“You will never make friends if….” or “You’d better stop worrying so much …”
When we say things like this, we are communicating to our teen that we do not accept her as she is, and this can introduce fear into her life. It also can invite “testing” to prove you wrong, and to show you that the threatened consequences will not happen.
2. Moralizing, Preaching
Sharing your values and beliefs is an important part of being a parent. But choosing to do so when your daughter is stressed is simply not helpful. Saying things like “Life is not always easy…” Patience is a virtue you should learn…” “ You shouldn’t feel that way…” can create a sense of obligation or guilt, and can lead your teen to “dig in” and defend her position even more. Or it may lead your daughter to withdraw, cause a sense of alienation or she may lash back with counter-moralizing, as she says things like “Well you shouldn’t ______ either!”
When I was a teen I was very good at making sure to point out to my parents where they were being hypocritical – how about you?
3. Giving Solutions
I can already hear you saying- “What do you mean that giving solutions is a problem?”Well as my grandmother used to say- there is a time and a place for everything. When your daughter is in high stress mode, she can’t hear your solutions, even if they are great. When you say things like: “What I would do is…” “Why don’t you…”or “Let me suggest…”, what your daughter may be hearing is thatyou don’t think she can solve her problems on her own. This may prevent her from thinking on her own and coming up with alternatives and solutions to her problems, and, most importantly, it can encourage dependency, which is the opposite of what we are trying to teach our daughters.
4. Judging, Criticizing and Blaming
We can all find ourselves especially short-tempered when things get heated and your daughter has displayed an immature or lazy behavior for the millionth time, we feel like we have just had enough, and then we may say things like:
“You are not thinking maturely…”
“You are just lazy….”
“Maybe you started the fight first..……..”
What our teens hear when we say things like this is:
- She is incompetent, stupid or has poor judgment.
- It will cut off communication because she is so afraid of negative judgment or of being yelled at.
- She might accept what you are saying as true, and believe “I am bad”, “I am stupid”, or she may lash back, saying something like “You are stupid too”.
5. Probing, Questioning
Once again, something which if done right can be very helpful, can be destructive when your daughter is in stress mode. Asking questions that start with:
“What did you….”
- Since answering questions sometimes results in getting subsequent criticism or solutions, teens could learn to reply with non-answers, avoidance, half-truths, or lies.
- Since questions often keep the teen in the dark as to what the adult is getting at, the teen may become anxious and fearful.
- Teens may lose sight of their problems while answering the adult’s questions.
Now you have a sense of how your daughter is hearing you when she is stressed Remember, the most important thing you can do for her when she is stressed is to listen until she has a chance to calm down and regain her composure.
Much Love and Support,
Tova’s experiences as a teen led her to dedicate her life and career of over 20 years to the field of teen and young adult informal education. She’s developed unique methods to help young people explore who they are and what is important to them; guiding them and those who work with them, in out-of-school settings to manifest their fullest potential from a place of commitment and values, based on what it true and right for them. To get connected to Tova, go HERE!