Archive for the ‘Teenagers’ Category

3- Step “Super Secret” Formula to finally get your kids (and spouse) to listen

November 1st, 2011

Does your child have trouble listening to you? Are you feeling like a broken record, asking again and again for what you want, and feeling like you are being totally ignored? If you’ve asked for what you wanted and everyone in your household seems to ignore your request you’ll likely get to a point where you begin to wonder, “why isn’t this working, why aren’t they listening?”

You may begin to get to a boiling point, get mad, throw a fit,  threaten, just give in and take care of it yourself, or complain about all that you do for everyone in the house. What you’ll likely find is that when you reach your boiling point and react (or just take care of it yourself while silently resenting your family members), others may for a short period of time take notice.  Heck, you may even get your teen (or husband) to listen and pick-up their underwear off of the bedroom floor if you yell loudly enough, AND….

…you may be creating a pattern of negative behaviors to get your needs met. So your children and spouse continue to ignore your requests and pleas until you blow your top, then all of sudden they are listening,  responding quickly and wondering, “What’s up with mom ?”

We know that children model their parent’s behaviors, so the last thing you want to teach your child is that ignoring and then overreaching is a healthy way to communicate. The best way to teach your child to listen, respect your requests, and to communicate in healthy way is to learn how to communicate your wants and needs in a healthy manner first.

You can use creativity to get back into you parenting authority, and here’s a way you can do so. Create an image of something (or someone) that represent being empowered, strong, assertive, and clear. Take a minute to see what pops up for you. Now embody this! Wear it like a cloak and ground yourself in this image. When your child or spouse wants to “hook you into an argument” or they are ignoring your requests, connect with this empowering image before you respond. You’ll respond from a centered more calm place; then you can use the 3- Step “Super Secret” Formula to ask for what you need! You can take this exercise even further and create an image of this and put it in a place where you’ll see it often as visual reminder of being in your parenting power.

Drum roll please….I’m going to share with you my 3- Step “Super Secret” Formula to finally get your kids (and spouse) to listen.

  1. Validate your child’s feelings
  2. Use the assertive triangle to state how you feel and what you need. I teach that technique in the free audio-telesemiar  Secrets Your Kids Really Don’t Want You to Know: A Child Art Therapist Tells All (*except for the confidential stuff) and you can access in the box above.
  3. Be clear of consequences and follow-through

Here’s how it might sound. You come in to your teen’s room and it is a mess and you’ve ask them to clean it and they are on Facebook with their friends.

“I understand that Facebook and connecting with your friends is important to you and it’s upsetting to get off the computer when you want to be on it. When I walk into your room and it’s messy and I asked you to clean it I feel upset and disrespected. Please pick-up all the clothes off of the floor and put them in the hamper and remove the dishes from your room by 9:00 pm tonight. If you choose not to then you will not be able to use the computer tomorrow.”

DONE! This is no need to lecture, no need to yell, not need to threaten, you have clearly asserted you needs, set reasonable expectations and consequences and given your child a choice. So there is no need to go on and on and lecture them (doing so you’ll lose your parenting authority).

This must be done in a neutral tone being in your parenting authority, so your child does not hook you and get you to react! Embody that image you created and operate from this calm- empowered place and you’ll be modeling for your children and spouse how to listen respectfully.

Have you tried different ways to communicate, but your child or spouse is still not listening?  We can help!


Difficult Teenagers: How to Motivate & Understand Them

September 30th, 2011

Guest Article by Dee Mason

‘I don’t know what to do with this kid. He’s got to go!’ This was my introduction to Matthew, a difficult teenager who was driving his teachers mad. No one could cope with him and almost all of his teacher/pupil relationships had broken down. When he wasn’t chatting he was distracted. His lies were works of art. He was likeable, with blonde spiky hair and vivid blue eyes, full of intelligence and guile. He seemed more mature than the other seventeen year olds. He didn’t have an agenda; he just tried to get through every day by lying, ducking and diving, doing the minimum to stay on the course and the maximum to fuel his enjoyment of life.

My Job
My job at that time was to take on the most difficult teenagers in the college, befriend them, and help them be successful. I knew it would be a challenge, and I was up for it. I came to see that these students were Mavericks and they respond well to slightly maverick solutions!

My Room, My Rules
I had very, very few rules.
Rule One: No Sniffing
I provided tissues. “Arrrrgh….I can’t stand it!” I’d say, handing them the box. This was a) true but b) I came to understand that it was also an act of ‘mothering’ that the teens didn’t mind at all. I realized that teenagers are still very much living with one foot in their childhood. The ones that were failing just needed a little more time to move on. I brought in bags of sweets often. They loved to feel they were special and a little bit spoiled. After all, everyone else in the school was shouting at them. These small acts of mothering seemed to give them a feeling of security and helped build trust.

Rule Two: Right! Work now!
I always let my growing band of outlaws chat away about their issues for a while. We talked about boyfriends, and parent’s divorces, and peer bullying. But there was always a moment in their hour and a half session time when I would say ‘Ok, time for work! Half an hour. Go!’ Because they had been able to talk and relax they never seemed to mind. After half and hour (or longer if they were happy to continue) we broke and chatted again. It worked well, and slowly their grades crept up.

Rule Three: Working In Silence

This was really important. Kids seem to be bombarded with noise all the time. I failed to see how it could help easily distracted teenagers in this crucial period of their education. I did not allow iPods. I wanted concentration. Peace. Silence. It worked like a charm. It was such a novelty to these children to spend half an hour with their own thoughts. “I got more done in the last hour than I did in the whole of last week!” Often they came from chaotic homes where they were forced to do homework in the corner of a living room surrounded by piles of baby clothes and magazines, with TV and younger siblings all vying for their attention. I truly believe that experiencing silence and focused concentration showed them something they did not know they were capable of, thinking.

Rule Four: Organization

When a student was referred to me I would always ask them ‘What do you want to do? What is it you really want to happen?” Often it was a simple wish to be able to finish their studies and get a job, or go to University. It was a sincere wish. Kids don’t turn up to school day after day to experience failure and feel anxious. Why would they? They keep coming back because they want to succeed. We looked at their messy notes and put them in order. We got a list of targets to work towards. We made lists and ticked thing off. I stuck a long sheet of paper on my wall, showing the weeks till exam time, with a movable Monty Python-style ‘Finger Of Doom’ which crept along the line, week by week, as a visual reminder.

Why Did It Work?

It worked because it was theirs. They felt part of a gang, one that defied everyone’s expectations. The gang that had their own place in the school. They were respected by me, and respected me in turn. They trusted me, because they knew I cared. One of the greatest tensions when working with children is the extent to which you show them, and admit how much you genuinely care for them. I was never afraid to own those feelings. They knew it. And because they knew I’d go the extra mile for them, they went the extra mile for me.
And Matt, the boy they were about to exclude from college? I asked him “What’s it like being you?”, and it all tumbled out. I decided that he needed an immediate assessment for ADHD. He was off the scale. No-one had picked it up in 17 years. Listening to what children say is the very first step in helping them. Not many people really listen to children, even ones whose job it is.
We worked with it, and around it. With a huge amount of patience and a lot of laughs we made it. He got his exams and went to University. No expulsion. His last email to me said, “If I could share it with you I would”. That last smile he gave me was reward enough.

Dee Mason is a freelance writer and proud parent of two. She specializes in the arts and travel, and writes on behalf of Adams Kids in the U.K