Growing up with apps and devices introduces a level of chronic stress for youth and parents alike which can result in hostility. Communication is always a two-way street in that listening is involved. For parenting tech-savvy youth, it is easy to believe that we need to keep telling our children what to do and what not to do and what to watch out for online; and how to be successful in school.
Eventually if we are not mindful of listening and are primarily focused on the things we want to tell them, they are at risk of believing we do not care about them. If we are not really interested in learning from them about how their childhood and teen years are informing them, teens might conclude what parents care about is their performance in school or sports or other extra-curricular activities. This belief can create barriers to open communication in the home and the tone of conversations can become very contentious.
Daryl Morales, Case Manager at the Koinonia Crisis Resolution Center in Loomis, offers some tips below to break cycles of hostility.
- Dealing with intense feelings can be challenging. The best way to engage a teen who is angry or rebellious is to demonstrate empathy.
- The difference between empathy and sympathy is significant. With empathy, you are feeling with the person who is struggling; while sympathy is to have feelings for that person.
- Empathy involves being present with your teen, no matter how intense their emotion or how much you disagree, and acknowledge those feelings. It is not about being right or wrong; rather it is about your teen “getting got”. So when your teen is complaining about having to do something, like homework or chores, listen and repeat back: “Sounds like you are feeling overwhelmed or [not appreciated]”, and let your teen elaborate.
- When you repeat what your teen is sharing about their feelings, so they know you heard them or they can correct or clarify what they are feeling, then it is possible to find a measure of peace and seek clarity about a circumstance or a situation. Then you are in a better position to make some suggestions and ask your teen how to handle the demands and frustrations differently.
- When there is a lack of empathy, it forces the brain to go into survival, flight or fight mode. And then it is very difficult to have a reasonable conversation.
- Rather than lecturing or correcting your teen when they act out or do not comply with a request or a requirement, it is better to ask a question to get them thinking: “Is this what you really need to be doing now?” or “Can you find another time to do that, and focus on this?”
Koinonia Family Services and the County of Placer are collaborating in a team effort to offer Placer County residents the family resources of the Crisis Resolution Center (CRC). Since 2002, the Crisis Resolution Center program has provided solution-focused family intervention which resolves family crises and establishes reunification of children ages 12-17 with their families. To learn more, go to: Crisis Resolution Center
About: We are a non-profit education center founded in Roseville, CA to strengthen the parent-child bond in a hyper-connected world. Our mission is to restore families with the mustard seed of faith that declares liberty already belongs to the soul because one God, the Creator of all humanity, grants every human being intelligence and free will to choose what to believe, and that is power that can never be taken, but is easily surrendered to the bully, the drug or the device. To that end, ten percent of all proceeds are donated to prison ministries. Your donations are greatly appreciated. (Donations are payable to Banana Moments Foundation).
Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and consultant on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber-powered world. She is a former technology executive trained in behavioral science at U.C. Berkeley, a mother of two grown sons, and an author of books for practical guidance on parenting, growing up and family life in the network culture. As a family and technology culture advisor, Joanna has appeared on 103.9FM The Fish, 710AM Keeping Faith in America, 1380AM The Answer, and Examiner.com.