Canít get a word in edgewise with your teenager? Tired of yelling? Want to be heard?

We Know: How Parents Can Get Their Teenagers to Listen to Them
A few helpful hints on parenting from former middle school teacher and children's writer Molly Hersage.

How Should I Engage My Child in a Discussion?

When parents choose to engage with their teenagers they want to make sure to:

  1. Create an established foundation of respect between parent and child
  2. Always encourage with positive feedback, and
  3. Seek to promote independence for the future.

How Do I Get My Teenager to Respect Me?

The most trusting relationships are those where there is an established foundation of respect. If you follow the 75/25 listening strategy and set clear boundaries with your child (see "How to Listen to your Teenager" and "How to Set Boundaries with Your Teenager") you will have laid the groundwork for respect between you and your child. You must listen to your child first and for a majority of your interaction with them. Second you must set clear boundaries agreed upon by you and your child. If you have done these two things you are ready to define and establish respect in your relationship with your child. For parents to create a foundation of respect at home they must begin by assuring their child they are ready to listen first. Next, parents should remind their child about existing boundaries that already exist within the home. Commend your child on her ability to respect these set expectations. Then move to step two.

How Do I Show My Child I Support Them?

Parents must encourage their children with positive feedback whenever possible by emphasizing what their child has done well. This works so much more effectively than simply criticizing him and demanding an end to disrespectful behavior. Teenagers rarely, if ever, respond to negative feedback. Positive feedback encourages a child to build on respectful, healthy behavior in the future. In a dialogue with your child include positive examples from his past that show when you have trusted and respected him. Articulate why and how you want to help him make healthy choices in the future. Finally, remind him you are available to help in any way. All he has to do is ask.

How Can I Help My Child Mature?

Instead of lecturing, articulate that what you desire from your child is respect and increased independence. Do not take your childís bad behavior personally. With teenagers, there are good days and bad days. Sometimes, your childís disrespectful behavior is simply a ploy for attention. Just putting aside time to sit down and be with her often reduces these behaviors. Without judgment, make her aware of the decisions she has made independently, and encourage her to choose differently in the future. Finally, empower her to make choices that promote the kind of person she wants to be.

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