Parenting a Teenager - Stop Doing This Number 4

empowering your teenager Mar 26, 2023


Do you feel like your teenager doesn’t tell you what is going on in their life or doesn’t listen to you?  Could you be unknowingly contributing to this dynamic?


Today I am going to reveal the number 4 item on our list of the top 10 things you need to stop doing as a parent of a teenager and what you can do instead.


This will have a huge impact on your future conversations.


So here we go … the number 4 Item on our list of the top 10 things you need to stop doing as the parent of a teenager.


I am going to ask that you stop lecturing your teenager… and what should you do instead … I am going to ask that you trust the process of experiential learning. 


Here is an example that illustrates what I am talking about.


You have a 16 years old daughter. She has expressed interest in becoming a doctor and has started talking about where she would like to go to college but you have noticed that recently she has been paying more attention to her phone, boys and her friends than her school work.  At dinner one night she mentions that she has a biology midterm the next day. She goes on to say that she isn’t ready and she is worried that she is going to fail it .  This information combined with her recent lack of effort triggers you and you launch  into the “Value of education, time management, effective study habits and doing your best” lecture.


Can you hear yourself rambling on for several minutes?  I know I can.


Think back to a time where you have given one of these lectures.  How did your teenager respond?  Did they sit up in their chair, lean forward and give you their full attention or did they look away or slump down in their chair with folded arms?   For me, I have always gotten the disengaged, don’t talk to me response when I slipped into lecture mode.


So why is that?  I am going to suggest that to your teenager your lecture feels like an attack.  In this example, the daughter has already acknowledged that she hasn’t prepared for the test.  The lecture just feels like rubbing salt into the wound. 


What do you do instead? 


You guide your daughter, in this case, towards the lessons to be learned from her personal experience.  You trust  the process of experiential learning.   For those of you who aren’t familiar with this concept let me share the high level overview.  The premise is that one of the best ways to learn is through personal experience. In fact some lessons can only be learned this way.  You could say this is learning by doing.   For example: The  only way to learn how to swim is to get in the water and start paddling.  But there are other lessons that we tend to ignore or disregard  until it affects us  personally.   With the daughter in the example above, mom and dad’s efforts to  share time management skills, and effective study habits will fall on deaf ears.  The key learning moment happens when the daughter has an aha moment. She realizes for herself that her lack of time management and poor study habits are getting in the way of her goals.   


At  the dinner table in this example rather than going into lecture mode say something like this:


That is a bummer. What has been holding you back?   


Can you see how a question like this is leading her to the aha moment?


Give this a try.  Let go of the lectures.  Trust the process of experiential learning and think of your role as creating the space for insights and aha moments. 


Your Family Enrichment Coach,


Jim White





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