Tuesday, November 3, 2009
The secret to better relations between parents and teens? Good old fashioned “behavior mod” as psychotherapist Dr. JoAnn Magdoff calls it. We are doing something called “LISTENING” to our kids. We are not offering unasked for opinions, positive or negative. We do not make helpful suggestions. We do not tell them how they can do things better than they’re already doing them. When asked for help in making a choice or a decision, we offer two or three options (all options we’d accept) just like when they were toddlers. Remember, “Do you want to eat apple slices or carrots?” “Do you want to wear your purple fleece or your gray sweater?” “Do you want to take your nap on the bed or the sofa?” We put our kids in control of the decisions they make, while making all outcomes perfectly acceptable ones.
Our kids do not want to hear how we would do something. They do not want to hear that their plan to meet at this one’s house to go to that place makes no sense. They do not want to hear that the lunch bag you put their lunch in is more practical than the one they'd rather carry. Get it? “Sit on your hands,” says Magdoff. “Keep your opinion to yourself.” They will do stupid things. They will make bad choices, yes, and often. They will, however, be much more willing to tell you things, show you things, and even ask what you think if you refrain from telling them how what they’re doing is not the best way, your way, or in any way not good enough.
Our kids are opening up to us more. They're telling us things. They're in a better mood! So what if they don't wear a warm enough jacket today? If they are cold, tomorrow they'll make a better choice--without us even telling them to!
How could we not have been doing this all along?
NOTE: Our kids are definitely not following this blog, so the secret of our technique seems pretty safe. Don’t give it away!