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Posts Tagged ‘communication’

Overcoming Defiant Behavior: Keys to Parenting Defiant Teens

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

Blog post by Achievebalance.org therapist Jason Davis MA, LPC (read post on Jason’s website here)

After a long day at work or running errands, you finally are able to come home. Is your teen an expert at pressing your buttons? Do you feel like each day is a battle? It doesn’t have to be that way. Believe it or not, it is possible for you and your adolescent child to coexist peacefully.

Developmentally, your adolescent’s brain development is not complete. They are very egocentric. Don’t worry, this is normal. Their thoughts are still in the phase of concrete thinking; they see the world in black and white, a strong and idealistic sense of what is right and what is wrong. “How does the world apply to me?” or “How do I fit in this world?” These are the questions that your adolescent has which guides their behavior each and every day.

As a part of this development, their friends and peers will become a significant part of your teenager’s life for the next few years. Do not take this personally. This is part of the process of their development, socially. Unfortunately, defiance can become part of this process of development. So what can a parent do?

  1. Create a Parenting Manifesto. What is your family about? What does your family stand for? Let this family philosophy guide your expectations for your children, and especially your teenager. When defiance comes, this Parenting Manifesto helps reduce conflict and arguing.
  2. Have effective Communication with your Teenager. Do not argue with your adolescent. This includes, yelling, making threats, and blame. Remember, they are learning from your examples. Arguing with your teen will only creates more conflict and resistance. When resistance comes, give them a choice for the outcome. Offer choice A or Choice B and let them make the choice. The more a parent argues with a teenager, the more frustrating it becomes, and the greater the chance that your teen will get their way.
  3. Set boundaries and stick with them. Children and Teens like structure. It gives them a foundation to grow and act upon. Setting boundaries helps them understand that their decisions have consequences.
  4. Spend time quality time with them. Have fun. Have casual conversations with them. Ask their opinions about topics that interest them. Have lunch with them or a cup of coffee. Your chats can be about school, life, social media, spirituality, games etc. The better relationship you have with your teenager, the less resistance you will experience.

Hold It Together Stay Together

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Disney claims to be “the happiest place on earth.” I think that’s funny because when my family visits the magic kingdom during the summer holiday, we laugh because of all the non-ride-related screaming. We hear screams of anguish from devastated kids being dragged away from princesses, and screams from tired kids on the last leg of their Bataan – like marches across four theme parks. I’m not gonna lie; we’ve had a few ‘just short of screaming’ moments at the happiest place on earth. Fortunately, my kids held it together in time to get to the food and the hotel swimming pool.

I wonder how many times parents just ‘hold it together’ in the summer time? One UK study found that of the 2,008 U.K. adults polled, nearly a fifth considered divorce or separation after their children returned to school after the summer holiday (see these and other unusual divorce statistics from the 2013 Huffington post article here). In The Woodlands, Texas where I practice, summer is more than just the time for a holiday road-trip. It is the time of migration. We see ex-pats moving in from other countries, families visiting their countries of origin for visa purposes, and mass move-ins and move-outs due to corporate restructuring.

So it’s probably true; many couples are just ‘holding it together’ hoping the summer will hold the magic to keep their relationship alive. Here are some ideas so summer isn’t the only hope:

  1. Fight fair and no below the belt name-calling or sarcasm. Any intimidating behavior (close yelling, throwing objects, slamming doors, etc.) is off limits.
  2. Don’t discuss serious or inflammatory things after drinking. Ever.
  3. Schedule a discussion so the kids aren’t around and you have plenty of time to talk. Write out your points and never let any single statement go longer than 20 seconds. Use a timer for this.

For more helpful hints, sign up for the newsletter and get “5 Rules for Couples to Fight Fair.”

Have a great summer!

How to Improve Communication and Listening Skills

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Sometimes I think listening is a lost art. I had the following experience: Hurricane Sandy was just a few hours away from landfall, and my 21-year-old son lives in Manhattan. Naturally I was a bit worried. In light of the impending storm, many people asked, “Do you have anyone in the storm’s path?” I answered affirmatively, hoping to talk a bit about my son and my worry. However, the other person immediately began to tell me about all of the people she knew who were also somewhere in the storm’s path.

Her heart was in the right place and she probably thought she was being supportive by indicating that she was in the same boat. However, what it felt like was that she really didn’t care about me, or my son, and it was all about her.

Listening is not thinking about what you are going to say once the other person has finished speaking. Listening is not waiting for the other person to stop speaking so that you can say something about yourself. If you want to improve listening skills, it is important to know the listening definition: listening is doing the sometimes difficult work of really understanding what the speaker is saying and then verbalizing what you have understood.

When we listen, there are several things we can do to show the speaker we are really listening. First, let the speaker know you heard him by responding with a statement like, “It must be really scary having family in a storm when you can’t help.” Next, ask a question such as, “Does he have enough supplies to get through the storm?” This indicates to the speaker that you are trying to understand and hear him.

This process is called Reflective Listening, and it really does work as a way of how to improve communication! The process ensures that the person who is speaking feels heard and understood. To be listened to and understood feels like being loved. Love the people in your life today. Listen.

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