Teens can be tough and needy, feel overwhelmed often, and be sure they know better than any adult what’s best for their lives. When you get stuck in conflict with your teen that needs a little outside help, is there a way to convince a teenager to participate with you in change? If you’re a parent of teens and have tried convincing them to “go to therapy”, you’re probably laughing right now. Teenagers aren’t known for their willingness or ability to sit down and talk through problems!
Traditional therapy, also known as “talk therapy” works for some folks. Sitting down with an expert or advocate who will listen and collaborate with you on finding solutions is great for those who are motivated to change, need to do some healing work, or simply need someone who will be with them through a tough time. But most teenagers are emotionally invested in defining and declaring who they are becoming rather than making changes at the request of their parents. They most often aren’t interested in any sort of “healing work”. And they’re focused on growing away from parents rather than being interested in exploring ways to work together toward positive change.
With that snapshot of typical teenagers, it is unlikely your teen will enthusiastically agree to a “therapy session” no matter how troublesome your relationship with them. But there is a way to grab a little help when you and your teen are struggling with conflict. Here are three powerful steps to conflict resolution with your teenager.
- Identify one thing that needs work.
Teenagers don’t have a well developed ability to focus over time, or to see the big picture. If your relationship with your teen has spiraled into conflict and drama, it probably won’t work well to announce your decision to involve a coach or counselor. However, choosing to explore solutions to one thing can provide just the right focus for them to be willing to participate.
Spend some time “in your teen’s head”. Try to look at your conflicted relationship from their perspective. What is your best guess for what they think is an area between you that needs the most work? Choosing just one thing to start with makes the commitment to working on change much more manageable. And being willing to start out with your teen’s perspective may be the one way to get them to participate. Ask! Remember that underneath the conflict, bad attitudes, and regular “teen angst” is a person who really does want to learn how to get along. Often it works well to ask a question like this, remembering that your teen will likely be able to identify your problems easier than their own:
If you could choose one thing you’d like me to change, what would it be?
2. Get creative with the method for change.
Create a collaborative atmosphere. If you’ve exhausted your own ideas for resolving a conflict or behavior problem with your teenager, bringing in a third party can present a wonderful fresh perspective. Invite your teen’s participation by offering them ten minutes to be heard without your interruption. Try asking something like this:
I’m sure I’m not hearing what you really need from me, so I’ve hired a coach to help. Would you be willing to tell her what you need so she can explain it to me?
3. 30 Minute Magic.
Remember teenagers desperately want your input and approval, even on the days when they’re pushing back against everything you offer. The trick is to find a way to grow with them as they’re becoming more independent – as they’re growing toward being an adult.
30 Minute Magic is a half hour with the HOPE Coach, split between you and your teen. Giving your teenager ten minutes of “me time” to express their concerns, complain about you and your parenting, and to simply BE HEARD is the first vital component of this powerful plan. Conducted by Skype, 30 Minute Magic is simply a way to practice new ways of interacting with your teenager with the help of someone with a little different perspective. Just as an exercise coach will provide you direction for change and feedback as you begin, the HOPE Coach will provide solutions and then walk with you as you practice a better way.
Here’s what you can expect.
- Interpretation. Messages between you and your teen can get garbled.
- Planning. Coming up with a Plan for addressing the one identified issue between you and your teenager.
- Practice. Starting while you’re on the Skype call, you’ll begin practicing the Plan. The best way to change unhealthy behaviors between you is to ACT first – the emotions and the mind will follow the behavior!
Don’t wait til your relationship with your teenager is completely out of control! Identify your one most pressing challenge, invite your teen to be heard for ten minutes, then schedule your 30 Minute Magic session with the HOPE Coach. After you click the Add to Cart button below, you’ll be taken to a page to schedule your 30 Minute Magic session with the HOPE Coach. Lets get started on transforming your relationship with your teenager from conflict to hope! What area of conflict with your teen are you struggling with today?