My teen has been in survival mode for a while because of stress due to massive amounts of school work, and I desperately want to help her move into a more pleasant frame of mind and state of being. So I am revisiting this topic for my sweet Andrea. Let’s do something that gets us back up to the level of thriving!
I love the song, “Thrive!” by Casting Crowns, especially the part with these lyrics:
We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives. It’s time for us to more than just survive. We were made to thrive!
It states what should be an obvious truth, which is that we all must strive for more than mediocrity in our lives. That includes our relationships, especially with our children.
I saw an article recently on the web that was entitled “How to survive the teen years” and I thought, “What a low-ball goal!” Why aim so small? Why just survive? That sounds like a miserable, common, and even boring existence for both the parents and the teenager. My goal is not merely to survive – my goal is to thrive!
When I think of surviving, I think about that guy on the Discovery channel who eats insects, goes barefoot, runs around wearing the equivalent of fig leaves, and probably smells really bad. No, thanks. Merely surviving is way overrated.
Why not strive for a better relationship with your precious teenager than the drudgery of “surviving?”
Here are 5 ways you can boost your relationship with your teenager to a higher level – from surviving to thriving!
- Speak to them the way you want to be spoken to.
Harsh words and tones do not produce happy feelings or good results. In the book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” Dale Carnegie says, “If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive.” So true. Proverbs 15:1 says that soft words turn away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.
Remember how you like to be spoken to before you fuss or nag or say something in a sarcastic tone to your teen. You are just teaching them that they can do the same back to you. The example you set speaks volumes to them.
- Avoid bad-mouthing them and being critical.
I can’t emphasize this one enough. DON’T BAD-MOUTH YOUR KIDS! Instead, praise them for the good things they do. Look for things to compliment. Tell your daughter she is a beautiful person. Thank your son if he opens the door for you and give him an extra squeeze.
The trust teens have for their parents evaporates quickly if they know mom or dad is making disparaging remarks at their expense. They have to know and fully believe you have their backs.
- Let your teen know you are proud of him or her.
Words of affirmation are vitally important. Nothing means more to people than being appreciated by the people they love, and that definitely goes for teens. An extra hug or a kind word of encouragement goes a long way toward building that relationship.
- Avoid making idle threats.
Do what you say you will do, and be consistent and follow through, but don’t constantly threaten your teen. That gets old quickly. Teenagers are very smart, and their BS meters are on full sensitivity mode. They know when you can’t follow through on a threat, or worse, when you won’t.
- Listen, listen, listen!!
Did I make that clear? When they decide to open their mouths, close yours. You can learn a whole lot by listening when your teenager decides to speak.
I always reel from the irony of parents who complain when their kids refuse to talk with them, and then they won’t listen when their teen is ready to speak. Make the time to listen. Determine in your mind that you are going to hear them out. And most of all, don’t freak out at anything they tell you. The best way to cut yourself out of the loop is to go ballistic when they choose to tell you something. No matter what it is, remain calm and take the approach of working the problem and getting through it.
I know parents will say, “but my kid has a bad attitude” or “she smarts off to me all the time.” We as parents are much more in the driver’s seat than we realize just by controlling our demeanor toward our kids. Steer the boat in the direction that you want it to go by following the steps above. Watch how your teen reacts.
I know it is tempting sometimes to say, “Well, we don’t do things that way.”
Perhaps, but stepping out of the norm or the comfort zone is the first step toward effecting a real and positive change in your life.
How can you improve your situation if you don’t try something different?
Which one of these five points gives you the most trouble? Leave a comment below and let me know which point listed above, if implemented, will help your relationship with your teen the most. How are you going to strive to thrive?