Yshai Boussi -- Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in Adolescents and Couples -- joined us today with great tips to help parents get their teens to do what they ask!
How To Get Your Teens To Do What You Want Them To Do
1. Identify clearly what it is you want. Prioritize. Let go of the small stuff.
2. Is it will or skill? Are they capable and able to do what you're asking? Or are they falling short because they lack the skills and ability? If they have the ability and still aren't complying, it's important to figure out what's getting in they way and utilize appropriate consequences. If they don't have the skills needed then the focus should be on helping them develop what they need.
3. Don't take it personal. When we start taking things personally, we get defensive and reactive, making them much less likely to comply. In many cases challenging your authority directly is just what they need to do on the path to figuring out how to be their own person. They're hardest on you because they feel safe with you.
4. Catch them doing well. Help build their confidence by finding specific examples of when they have done what you're asking. This will help remind them that they can in fact do what you're requesting. If you notice them making effort in the right direction, let them know.
5. Be mindful of your own emotions. Take responsibility for your feelings and avoid dealing with your teen when you're angry and reactive.
6. Shift from "me" to "we". Throw out the concept, "pick your battles". The notion of a battle involves a winner and a loser. This doesn't work with teens. The reality of family life is you either win together or you lose together. Instead, use language such as "we need to figure this out" or "how are we going to fix this?" or "This really sucks, we're both miserable right now.".
7. Have realistic expectations. Having an expectation that is challenging without being overwhelming isn't always easy or obvious. Be thoughtful about what you are requesting. Evidence of progress may be subtle and small at times. As with any process of change there will be back sliding on occasion, so be patient and no matter what, don't give up on your teen.
For more great information from Yshai Boussi, check out his blog.