how to talk so teens… Chapter 4: Working it out together

In How to talk so kids will listen…, this method is described at the end of Chapter 3 about alternatives to punishment.

Here it is a whole chapter, which I think is good, because it is worth spending time on it. It also makes sense that it would take more space in the book that concerns the teenagers specifically, because that method can work with kids, but becomes downright necessary when dealing with teens. Why? Because if they don’t want to cooperate, then they will not. Period. The time of  « because I said so » is definitely over, and I basically think that acting this way with a teenager will only encourage him to drift further from us.

He needs to feel involved, engaged in the resolution of the problem, whatever it is.


At first glance, we might think it takes more time, but longer-term, lets make sure the teen is part of the team from the beginning, otherwise the quick resolution of the problem isn’t one, and we just wasted time solving it too fast.

Hence the title of the chapter: « Working it out TOGETHER. »

The idea is to deal with the situation which poses problem (bedtime, attitude towards his brother, cleaning up, whatever it is) following these steps

1 – Listen to your teen’s point of view
To be able to move on to the solving part, the teen first needs to feel listened, otherwise it isn’t even worthwhile to continue.

2 – Share your point of view
On the other hand, we will also teach him to see the counterpart’s position, and understand why the situation is a problem for us. It will help him reflect later in the process.

3 – Brainstorming
We think TOGETHER and note all the ideas we have, good or bad, without judgment.

4 – Choice of solution
We reread the list, and choose which could be implemented to meet the both our needs.

Then, let’s not forget the final step:

5 – Check that the 2 parties continue to respect the agreement.

This is sometimes a step we might be tempted to skip, but it also has its importance. Because we tend to drift apart from what has been decided, or even just to realize that we are doing well, which demonstrate that our exercice had value!

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