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How to get your teens to really listen

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One of the challenges most parents have with their kids is to get them to do their biddings, but the reverse is the case, especially for teenagers, says Hellen Olukoju-Oladele, a parenting advocate and expert focused on teens. Whenever you talk to your child about things that excite them, like going for shopping, seeing a movie or eating out they listen, so when you give your teenagers other instructions, it is not a matter of whether they can hear you or not.

They might not listen to you for a number of reasons, and could be that they are aware of your pattern, which could be yell, blame or command, so they ignore you on purpose. Another is when you ask over again, and then you give up and do it yourself. Next time you will be ignored until you give up.

Olukoju-Oladele said that these teenagers might have a lot on their minds too.“Teenagers have their issues, ranging from peer pressure, bullying – either as a victim or the bully themselves, academics or soccer trainings to occupy them. Even toddlers are busy with exploring and tearing the house apart; kids have other things to think about. So they have priorities and don’t often understand why the one you want them to do is so important now.”

While humans are wired to be oppositional, force creates resistance. An example is what you feel inside when someone tries to control you, tell you what to do, think or feel without minding your emotions. When we speak to our kids in ways we wouldn’t want to be spoken to, then there will surely be a resistance. Also, if you are fond of using sarcasm, they might not listen too.

How then do you get your kids to listen to you? Olukoju-Oladele stressed that a lot of parents do not listen to their teens whenever they want to share anything with them, because they are busy on their phones or laptops. “Even when you listen, you don’t give them full attention, so when it’s their turn, they reciprocate the same gesture.

“However, if you are always using empty threat, like, ‘If you don’t do this, I will break your head’ and they know you are not breaking no head, then nothing also works.“Always remember, you are older, more matured, brain fully developed, so if you are unable to control your emotions, how will your child do same. If you know that you have mastered the art of yelling and hitting in the past, please be humble enough and call your children together, apologise, don’t blame them for your shouting, take responsibility for your actions, let them know you are adopting a new empowering habit, request their cooperation to help you in this amazing journey.”

For the teen parenting coach, here are few steps to guide you:
. Make it a habit to pay attention to them whenever they want to talk to you, even when you are very busy, politely schedule another time and keep to it.
. Don’t start talking until you have their full attention. Get down on your child’s level (if still very young), touch them lightly, observe what they are doing and make a comment about it.
. Ensure your kids hear you when you speak to them the first time, do not repeat yourself more than two times, if he doesn’t answer, go back to (2) above. At this time, you are tempted to yell or hit, don’t give in.
. Stay calm. When parents get upset, kids feel unsafe and go either into a fight or flight in an attempt to defend themselves, they become less effective at listening and lose sight of our message.
. Set up routines and schedules, write it on a cardboard and paste on a conspicuous place in the house. Let them be in charge and all you need to do is to ensure they follow through.
. Communicate! What parents do most times is give instructions, command, and dominate. The moment your child knows that you will just dump your opinions on them, they will complain or not respond.
. Give them reasons; this shows them that your request is reasonable.
. Empathize with them and engage their co-operation.
. Always ensure you use positive words. Children look up to their parents to give them motivation so the moment they don’t get it, it forms negative emotions even if you have the best intentions.
. Praise on what they do well/right. If all you do is to tell your child what they do wrong, with no information on doing it right, then it doesn’t motivate them to change for the better.


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