I've never subscribed to the adage
That "a child should be seen and not heard."
I have always admired the curious mind
And have welcomed the questioning word.
I think I'm a liberal parent,
One who'd never be labeled a prude.
But my child just discovered a four-letter word,
And it has me a trifle unglued.
I face now a trying dilemma:
To ignore or acknowledge this find.
Though I've always encouraged more picturesque speech,
I had something less graphic in mind.
Please check out this YouTube video on Awesomommy. Far too many young people are being labeled with psychiatric terms, prescribed medication, removed from their peers, and forever changed because of this practice.
Teenage as a Second Language: A Parent’s Guide to Becoming Bilingual, by psychologists Dr. Jennifer A. Powell-Lunder and Dr. Barbara R. Greenberg. Here are some definitions-- and suggested responses from the authors -- that every parent should know.
1. ) "Whatever"
•An expression that implies that a teen may give in but is not really interested in what is being said
•An attempt to be dismissive in as few words as possible.
Suggested Parental Response: Leave this alone. Do not let your own concern that your teen may be less than thrilled create an unnecessary controversy.
2.) "And, yeah..."
•A phrase often used just as a teen is getting to the main point of a story.
•This phrase serves to deflate or minimize the importance of the main point of the story especially when a teen is unsure of how the story will be received.
Suggested Parental Response: This is an opportunity to respond in an interested and neutral manner. “I am interested in the rest of the story if you feel like telling me now or later.”
•I will reluctantly consent, but not with pleasure.
•An intentionally vague description used when teenager clearly has no interest in providing further detail.
Suggested Parental Response: None needed. You have made your wishes known.
4.) "I hate you"
•An expression used to convey anger at the moment.
•An expression meant for 'shock value' in an effort to secure 'alone time.'/ A last ditch effort to get you to give in.
Suggested Parental Response: "I'm sorry you're upset, but that isn't going to change my answer."
5) "Thanks" or "Thanks a lot"
•When said sarcastically, a simple expression of anger and/or disappointment.
Suggested Parental Response: “Sorry, when you’re ready to talk to me maybe we can come up with some other fun things to do.” In all cases, avoid responding sarcastically. (Of course, if they genuinely thank you for something, make sure you acknowledge the good manners as well!)
Remember, the authors say it's critical to remain responsive, not reactive. Think cool, calm, and collected. Your teens will not only hear what you are trying to say, but you teach them the most productive way to approach all life situations. Also, avoid the trap of asking too many questions. Don't push. If they're holding back, let them disclose information at their own pace. When opening a dialogue, pointed questions result in more expansive responses. (e.g. Ask: “Tell me one thing you learned in school today,” instead of “How was school today?”)
"The tools and techniques we offer in the book have been shaped through trial and error in our own direct clinical work," says Powell-Lunder. "While we put the information we gathered into book form, it was the teens who let us into their lives that we feel we must credit. Our work with them and their families compelled us to write the book."
Of course, it may take some trial and error for parents, too. After all, it's not always easy to put up with the eye-rolling and "whatevers". Their advice? Remember it's not personal, even though, at times, it may feel that way.
"Teens are, by nature, egocentric. They assume that the whole world is watching them and that everything they think and feel is unique to them. Your perception of your teen should take these factors into account," she says. "If their responses frustrate or anger you, calmly explain why. Anger begets anger. It is not what you say to your teen but how you say it that can make all the difference."
More advice from our little friends on guidance and independence (from always kiss me good night: Instructions on Raising the Perfect Parent by 147 kids who know, compiled by J.S. Salt):
Vivi, age 11 years old says: "Take me somewhere special once in a while, by myself, without my sister." As the oldest of four children, I think the only time I ever got to do something by myself with one or both parents was before the others came along or the doctor's office. Now, I was young A LONG TIME AGO, but I remember wishing for just a little time alone with the adults in my life. No doubt, that's why Grandma's house was so special!
We all need to know that we are important to the people closest to us. We need to know that we're not lost in the shuffle of day-to-day life. I have a friend who has Saturday morning breakfast with his daughter every week, without fail, just the two of them. It's always at McDonald's so it's not a big drain on the pocketbook, but it's time well spent showing his daughter just how important she is to him.
Laura says: "Let the house be peaceful." Out of the mouths of babes! Sometimes our homes become just the place where we stop long enough to sleep a little bit and prepare for the next day. I would suggest that our houses, our homes, are meant to be our refuge from the rest of the world. They are the places wherein we can rejuvenate ourselves and each other; to be "filled up again" to face the world. If our houses are not filled with peace, then where do we find that calming spirit? I'll never forget coming home in the evening. Supper (we had supper, not dinner--that was at noon) was ALWAYS at 6:00 P.M. We were all there, together. After supper was homework and television--together! We only had one tv so we had to watch what we could agree on--or what our parents said we would watch. It was peaceful, it was relaxing, it was safe! Children need to know that "all is right with the world," their world. We, as their parents, create that peaceful, safety net for them.
Frank, age 10, says, "Sometimes can you play with me instead of saying no?" When was the last time you stopped what you were doing and gave 100% of yourself to your child? Nothing says "I love you" more than your undivided attention. It doesn't have to be for long periods of time. Just give a little bit of your whole self to your child and you might find that you enjoy it so much you want to do it more often! You both win here! He'll be happy and confident in your love and you'll feel great about the relationship you're building with your child! Super!
Ryan, age 10, says, "I love it when I'm considered as a wonderful kid." Does your child know that he is wonderful? How does he/she know it if you don't tell them through your words and actions? It doesn't take long...only a few minutes of your time each day, but what a difference it will make in your child's life! Just think about that someone in your own life who made you feel special or important. Remember that feeling! Now give that gift to your own child.
Jeanette, age 10 years old, says, "Keep your promises better." Are you listening, people?!
We adults sometimes forget that when we tell our children that we will do something or that we'll make something happen, it is imperative that we do it. Our children learn by our example:
- Almost 90% of what children learn comes from observing their parents
- Only 10% of what children learn comes from what we tell them with our words
Credit: Free images from acobox.com
Amanda, age 10, says, "tell me what I did Right." Wow! There's some good advice! As parents and teachers (adults in general) we oftentimes forget what it's like to be young. We assume that children/youth know how to do things and don't think about the fact that MAYBE they don't know and are afraid to ask us. Then we become upset with them because they don't do what we asked or intended. We get caught in this loop of finding fault, instead of seeing what they did right or well. Did you know that it takes 7 positive statements to undo 1 negative?
So the next time you catch yourself telling your child or young person what they did wrong, ask yourself, "How many "rights" have I told them about today?" It's just as easy to catch the good stuff as it is the bad.
Thanks, Amanda, for the reminder!
I Am A Teacher
I am a teacher. I have been teaching in some way for 35 years. I have taught very young children, I have taught middle school and high school age young folks, and I have taught adults. I have taught all subjects. I have taught one subject. I LOVE teaching, but more than that, I LOVE learning. Here's a list of some things I've learned from the youngest students over the years:
- "Encourage me"
- "Have convdents in me"
- "Listen to me when I am talking"
- "When I'm down, raise me up"
- "Love me like you've never loved anyone before"
- "Keep your promises better"
- "Snugel me up in your arms"
- "Love me for what I am"
- "Treat me like you treat your customers"
- "Say "I love you," once in a while, not just when I'm leaving for school"
Just something to think about today.