5 Mistakes Parent’s Make When Talking to their Teens

parent teen communication, parent mistakes, communication errors, effective communicationThis guest post is by Jennifer Hancock

Jennifer Hancock is the author of The Humanist Approach to Happiness: Practical Wisdom, a book designed to help teach young people the importance of personal ethics, responsibility, and quality decision-making. The point of the book isn’t to tell young people how to behave. Rather, its purpose is to help young people learn how to think through common everyday problems on their own. It’s designed to be discussed and can help kick start important conversations between parents and their children about how they approach the all-important process of living a happy and productive life.

 

One of the biggest concerns parents of teenagers have is how to help their child learn to make good ethical decisions. Our hope is that they will thrive as people and avoid the common pitfalls of adolescence.

 

Talking to teens isn’t always easy. Here are 5 common mistakes parents make when talking to their teens and how to avoid them.

 

Mistake #1: Don’t talk

 

A lot of parents think they need to sit down and have some major talk with their teens about life.  What you need to know is that learning occurs all the time and doesn’t need to be formal. A simple comment about something you’ve both seen in the moment is usually more effective than a sit down talk and it’s definitely more effective then critiquing your teen’s behavior ad nauseum. When it comes to teens, short and sweet about someone else is more likely to be listened to than a lecture about them.

 

Mistake #2: Don’t respect your teen’s autonomy

 

Teens are unique individuals with lives all their own. Yes. You gave birth to them and they are a part of your DNA, but you don’t own them. And, no, they don’t have to do what you say. They are autonomous individuals who make their own decisions. Respecting their autonomy helps you frame your advice in a way that is more likely to be heard. You are no longer telling them what to do; you are simply giving them advice so that they can make better decisions for themselves.

 

Mistake #3: Don’t explain the reason why

 

Kids have a right to know why rules exist. Not only do they have a right to know, they need to know. They won’t learn how to think for themselves unless you share with them your reasoning on why you made your rules. By sharing your thinking you are helping them to not only better understand and abide by your rules, you are also teaching them how important good reasoning is to decision-making.

 

Mistake #4: Don’t share your values

 

In our quest to raise ethical kids, we often forget that in order to teach ethics, we need to actually talk about ethics. Teens learn how to think about the ethics of their decisions by hearing you talk about your ethical reasoning. Always provide a rationale for your values otherwise they won’t understand why you feel the way you do. Just remember, as strongly as you might feel about your ethical values, your teen needs to sort out their values for themselves. If you insist, they will resist. And worse, you will have deprived them of an opportunity to learn how to reason through ethical dilemmas on their own.

 

 

Mistake #5: Don’t talk about consequences

 

When it comes to making wise decisions, teens are at a disadvantage. Their brains aren’t wired to contemplate the consequences of their actions very well yet. The best way a parent can help their teen get in the habit of thinking about consequences is to discuss potential consequences with them. Make it a bit of a game. What would happen if … ? The more consequences you and your teen can brainstorm the better and don’t forget that consequences have consequences. Again, this isn’t about you dictating how they should behave. It is about you helping them learn how to think through the consequences of their actions for themselves.

 

 

 

 

This guest post is by Jennifer Hancock

 

Jennifer Hancock is the author of The Humanist Approach to Happiness: Practical Wisdom, a book designed to help teach young people the importance of personal ethics, responsibility, and quality decision-making. The point of the book isn’t to tell young people how to behave. Rather, its purpose is to help young people learn how to think through common everyday problems on their own. It’s designed to be discussed and can help kick start important conversations between parents and their children about how they approach the all-important process of living a happy and productive life.

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  1. 5 Mistakes Parent’s Make When Talking to their Teens | ETIA Ltd | Effectiveness Training Institute of Australia Ltd - January 24, 2013

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