Archive d’étiquettes pour : Teen

Interesting chapter, where the author relates a session with kids, well… teenagers.

She decided , in order to better understand them, to ask them targeted questions, which they had to answer in writing. Questions about the advantage of having their age, their concerns, how they think their parents help or on the contrary don’t, advice they give their parents, or other teens…

Of course it got me thinking about us.


We try to have an open relationship with our teenager, to talk about everything, and above all make sure he knows he can talk to us about anything, but do we know how enough to know what he would answer to the questions raised here?
I’ll just copy here the list of these issues, we’ll each deal with our own teen…


When people make a comment like « well yes, he’s a teenager! », what do you think they mean?
What do you think is the main advantage of having your age – for yourself or for your friends?
What are some of the concerns of young people your age?
Are there things your parents say or do that are useful to you?
Are there things your parents say or do that you are not useful?
If you had any advice to give to parents, what would it be?
If you had any advice to give to other teenagers, what would it be?
What would you like to see change in your life – at home, at school, or with friends?


The end of the book is for teenagers themselves, how to communicate with their parents.
Try to stay respectful, avoid insults…
Then the last chapter encourages parents to seize opportunities that arise to discuss sensitive subjects, such as drug or sex… spontaneously and casually, for example discussing news, rather than by launching big conversations.

Back to the book post

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!

Back to the book post

The punishment… Subject of controversy.
To differentiate between punishment and consequence, for some, it’s only semantics. But when you look a bit more into it, you realize it really isn’t.
We’ve already discussed this question How to talk so kids… in Chapter 3 on punishment.

This time, we’re talking specifically of the teenager, but the principle is the same.


The message is not « I have all powers over you. » (Message sent when you punish, especially a teenager), but: « I’m on your side, let’s raise the bar. »
A different communication, to pass the responsibility onto the child. A stronger message to avoid the situation coming back, without sending the message that he’s a bad person. Always remain respectful.
It is more difficult than to punish the child, but better to force him to assume responsibility. Because by punishing, we enable him to ignore what hes done, and focus on his resentment against us. In fact, it deprives him of his work of taking responsibility.
Thus, by punishing, we may stop the behavior, but we dont allow children to self-correct.

Why is it so hard to change our punishments in consequences? Because there are situations for which there is no consequence. So the parent is frustrated at no being able to really react…
But is it necessary to react? Only seeing the result of his actions is sometimes enough.
In any case, the important steps are:
Express feelings
Express your expectations
Indicate a way to repair
Give a choice
Take action

And if that’s not enough, or if the situation repeats, move to the next phase of conflict resolution (already addressed in How to talk so kids… but thoroughly detailed in this one, in the  next chapter.)

An article to go further on the difference between punishment and consequence:

Back to the book post

Here, we are close to the concept fo engaging cooperation, from How to talk so kids will listen…

Reading the book, and what some parents check with their teenager, I note that we do NOT check:
that he eats a good breakfast
that he does his homework
that he changes clothes
that he does not forget his things for school
that he practice his piano
what time he turns the lights off

But we check:
that he does bother his sister
that he doesn’t leave without telling us where
that he cleans up his stuff that are lying around
that he doesn’s spend too much time on his computer

In this chapter, it is suggested we change our approach a bit:

Rather than checking and being in control mode, communicate with the same techniques that are outlined in the chapter on cooperation of How to talk… supplemented by a few others which are not new, but are good to see again, and try and finally use!

1 – Rather than give orders (« Put this slice of pizza back! »), describe the problem (« it’s a small pizza, there is only one slice per person. »)
2 – Rather than attack the teen’s character (« I can’t count on you! »), describe what it feels like (« I’m disappointed, I thought that you’d do this before my return… » – Note the message I, and no « you disappoint me »)
3 – Instead of blaming your teen (« Look what you’ve done with my sweater! »), give information (« it’s a good idea to check the label before putting the laundry on. »)
4 – Instead to threatening, or giving orders, again, (« There is no way you wear that at the restaurant! If you don’t change, you stay home! »), give a choice (« we’re going to a fancy restaurant. You can wear a clean shirt, or hide this one under a sweater. »)
5 – instead of a long speech (« How many times have I told you not to put your bag on the counter? »), just use a word (Lise, your bag. »)
6 – instead of pointing out what’s wrong (« You’re being mean to your sister, you keep on criticizing her »), expose our values and expectations (« I don’t like people being put down in our family. If there is something that you think may be useful to your sister, I expect that you tell her in a way that is not offensive. »)
7 – instead of reacting angrily, react unexpectedly. (Going back to humor, as discussed in   Liberated parents…)
8 – instead of harassing, write a note.

Back to the book post

This chapter builds on what the initial book said: it is important to welcome and validate the child’s feelings to open the discussion.

A theory thus seen already in the first chapter of How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk , and also in Liberated Parents, liberated children.

As a reminder, the different techniques presented are:

Listen with attention
Acknowledge with a word
Give the feeling a name
Give the child his wishes in fantasy

Sometimes, particularly in the case of the teenager, we may need to redirect behavior, remind the core values, at the same time as we receive the feelings.

Teens are going through a difficult transition, and we sometimes we naturally try to reject negative feelings. But we can help them through our listening.

Let’s try to put into words what we think our teenager feels.

We can also share our opinions, but there is a time for everything, we first need to tell our child that he has been heard.

I will only share here one example from the book, which, against the odds, helped me later in a similar situation
Facing her son who realizes he has an uncompleted assignment due the next day, the mother makes comments like « don’t tell me you haven’t done it!  -This is what happens when you don’t plan! « , and the teen closes completely… Instead, another scenario is offered: one where the mother only listens and acknowledges with a word, and we see the teen going on and commenting that he should have planned to begin earlier…

Back to the book post

 This book is very close to How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk  , only focused on the teenager,   following what Faber and Mazlish (the authors) had to do when they were asked to organize workshops with teens’  parents.


We find the same basic skills  (especially in the early chapters) but with examples and developments more suitable to teenage years.

I found it was a good way to open up our horizons and begin using our new skills with our oldest.


Chapter 1: Dealing with feelings

Chapter 2: We’re still « making sure »

Chapter 3: To punish or not to punish

Chapter 4: Working it out together

Chapter 5: Meeting the kids

Chapter 6: About feelings, friends, and family

Chapter 7: Parents and teens together

Chapter 8: Dealing with sex and drugs

(No post made on chapters 6-8)