Heart-to-Heart Connection

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Boundaries With Teens — Empathize, Connect, Stay Firm, Follow Through — How? (6/10)

What do these have in common: Breaking agreements, chores, clothing, curfew violations, cutting and self-mutilation?  Teens — growing up, trying to make sense of their world — some, more troubled than others!

So what’s a parent to do?

Yesterday, we’ve looked at empathy, making connection, staying firm, and following through on consequences (the law of cause and effect) … We’re still on the same page; as a matter of fact, the saga continues until our teens leave us as responsible adults, making wise choices and wise decisions. 

I won’t bring up the same theme.  It’s what it is.  Instead, I’ll share Dr. Townsend’s insights on how to communicate; after all, one of the most challenging aspects of articulating our thoughts are not what we say but how we say it:

  • Clothing — Don’t moralize or over-identify.  Confront your adolescent’s inappropriate attires.  You want your teen to be responsible for what he wears and how it affects others, “If you insist on dressing this way, you’ll lose whatever social setting you want to wear them in.” 

How about keeping your word?

  • Breaking Agreements — Get the problem out in the open.  Give your teen a way to think before making an agreement.  “Maybe you could have told me you didn’t have time to sort your clothes because of finals.  I would have understood, and we could have scheduled a better time.”
  • Chores — Establish a clear structure.  “No phone until the kitchen is clean,” or “No going out on the weekend until the yard is done.”  Teens see how what they want is dependent on what they do.  A responsible young adult who knows how to work and how to take care of himself will experience less hardships and setbacks in life.
  • Curfew Violations — Adolescents need to learn how to disengage from what they love in order to meet their responsibilities.  Guide your teen to become a young adult who can leave a conversation or project, budget enough time to get to the next meeting, and arrive on time and ready (yes, stuff CEOs are made of).  “Have a great time.  I expect you home by 10:00 p.m.  If you choose to be late, next time, you won’t be able to go out with your friends.”

Some teens require additional attention and intervention:

  • Cutting and Self-Mutilation — Kids who cut themselves often feel nothing and do so because pain makes them feel alive.  Help your teen identify the underlying problem, “I think I understand that you cut yourself when you’re mad at me, feeling lonely, or scared.  Is that right?”  Work on your relationship and on openness.  Help your teen work on the underlying problem.  Tell him you’ll check on him.  If the behavior persists, consult a therapist.

When I acquire these communication skills (someday), I’ll be much more loving and understanding … I’ll be all grown up!  Yeah!  🙂


September 15, 2009 - Posted by | Attitude, Book Review, Change, Christianity, Collaboration, Compassion, Education, Freedom, Health and Wellness, Heart, Introspection, Leadership, Purpose, Self Help, Spirit, Success | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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