Effective Communications with Teens: Get used to saying these TWO words often!
That’s right. I can feel my chest tightening now. We humans don’t like to admit that we could even possibly be in the wrong. It doesn’t taste the best coming out of our mouths, but chances are people closest to us may need to hear it. There is nothing wrong with admitting our mistakes, no matter how little. Our own pride may tell us something different, but when to comes to building trust, in relationships this should be a common refrain in our households and in our friendships. We are all learning from each other in the home; what bothers one parent may not bother another, what sets off one child may not set another child off. Often times it may feel like a difficult dance, one step forward and two steps back. THAT’S OK! It means you’re working and growing, and you are modeling this for your child as well. Relationships are hard work. There should be no doubt about this, when they leave your home. But yes, one way for them to feel less burdensome is owning your wrongs openly, and encouraging others in your home to own theirs. Keeping short accounts in the family, help your children understand that they can confront hurt and wrong comfortably, instead of bottling up resentment, for an explosion down the line.
When I hear frustrated parents talk about their child not taking responsibility for their actions. I often ask, “how often they model taking responsibility for things”. There is a part in all of us that think “Oh they know I am sorry, I smiled at them, I bought that toy, I took them to ice-cream.” But what a child needs more than those things is hearing their parent admit they were wrong, ask for forgiveness, and own it. This is so important for children to learn.
Typically, after any difficult conversation, argument, or even yelling, there is some type of wounding on both ends; maybe a tone, a rude comment said in haste and anger. Trying to forge through a relationship, without acknowledging that something negative happened in that time is like trying to move into the future with out learning from the past. Trust may have been broken through a negative exchange and although it may be a small break, it always needs to be addressed. Children often do not know how to express to you what felt hurtful about a conversation to them. Therefore it is up to the adult to take charger- “Was it my tone? Was it the harsh words I used or was it simply my lack of patience” etc?
After the conversation, you may even ask your child “ How can we have a better conversation next time?” We all want to be effective in our conversation and feedback is a great way to learn. The best part about this is you are showing your child in real time how to take responsibility for their actions because you are taking responsibility for your actions as well.
***Disclaimer: This blog is the opinion of an individual and does not constitute professional advice or a professional relationship to the reader. If you are seeking mental health services, please contact a therapist in your area. If you are experiencing an emergency, please go to the nearest hospital or call 911.***