Trusting your teenager is one of the hardest things to do. We are surrounded by potentially hazardous situations that we feel we need to protect them from. Making the shift from “managing” your teen, to respecting and trusting your teen is SO difficult. It’s just so much easier to focus on what they aren’t doing and point it out to them. Luckily, our teens push back and resist our managing so much that it makes changing ourselves seem like the less painful alternative.
I spoke at Carondolet High School recently talking about how to create more balance in the lives of our stressed out teens. They are under a lot of pressure to do everything “right”. One Challenge Success survey showed the thing that stressed them out the most is disappointing their parents. When we remind them, “Clean your room, study for your test, don’t forget your jacket, stop spending so much time on your phone, etc.” We don’t even realize we are sending the message that they aren’t good enough as they are.
I wrote up a list of things to say or text to teens to show them more support and trust. My hope is to plant a seed in parents heads of what our words would sound like if we reinforced the behavior we wanted to see, instead of pointed out all the things we don’t like. I hope this list inspires you to come up with some of your own.
“Hey, just want to say thanks for cleaning up the entry way, I loved the way it felt to come into a clean entry way.”
“Guess what? You were right! I didn’t have to remind you about ____. I was wrong. Next time, feel free to remind me how responsible you are.”
“By the way, there is nothing you have to do today. The day is yours.”
“I’m so impressed with all you are doing. You are managing your busy calendar so well.”
“I’m pretty good at finding things to worry about but with you, I can’t. I just know that you will have a great future and you will handle it all beautifully.”
“I trust that you will figure things out.”
“I don’t know how you do it. I sat in a meeting for an hour and was so bored and restless. You impress me.”
“I never would have had the courage, at your age, to do what you did today.”
“How did I get so lucky to get such a great kid.”
“You are just amazing.” “Here’s $20. take the day off and just do nothing. You deserve a break.”
“You do a great job of putting up with me. Hang in there, I’m almost fully trained.”
“I love it when you stay true to your values, even if it means you argue with me.”
“Thank you so much for helping clean up after dinner. It meant the world to me.”
“I love it that whether your grades are good or bad, you know you can tell us the truth.”
Parents – Remember to focus and reinforce the behavior you’d like to see more of.