When your teen pushes your buttons, disengage
If your teen pushes your buttons, there's no telling what words will fly out of your mouth. Learn communication strategies for parents that work.
As a parent, you have spent many years nurturing and protecting your child. Now this child is a teenager and thinks she/he is an adult, and doesn’t hesitate to tell you so! (hot button) You may find yourself trying to impose your own logic and life experience. (hot button) You may feel the need to ‘fix it’ for them. After all, you’ve been there, done that, right? (hot button) This approach often leaves both you and your child frustrated.
Many of our responses stem from our fears for our kids. When my children, now in their early 20’s, ask me when I will stop worrying about them, I tell them that won’t happen until I stop breathing. I will always worry about them. It’s what parents feel. But there is a difference between your thoughts and feelings and your actions/reactions. This is where you can learn to be aware of your hot button and NOT act on it.
Too often parents feel that they must respond immediately – with advice, a yes or no to a request, or consequences. A button has been pushed and your gut tells you to take action. Instead, take a moment to breathe and reflect. Think about saying, “I’ll get back to you on that,” or “I have some strong feelings about that. I need to think about what you’ve just told me.” It is okay to disengage and consider what you really want to say. When you respond in this way, you are telling your child that you have really heard him. You are beginning to break down defensive walls and open the door to meaningful communication.
Reacting and responding in a more thoughtful, less emotional way is critical to a healthy relationship between you and your teen. A book that I have found to be helpful in improving communication and listening skills is How to Talk So Teens Will Listen and Listen So Teens Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. It is an easy read, and full of do-able skills and strategies for parents of teenagers.
There is no EASY button in parenting; however, you can cool down your hot buttons and draw your child closer to you. It is never too late to start.