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Mastering the Art of Better Listening

What It Takes to Raise Kids Who Will Make Good Decisions

Parenting Teens with Love and Logic:Preparing Adolescents for Responsible Adulthood

The Myth of Maturity: What Teenagers Need from Parents to Become Adults





by Lawrence Balter, Ph.D.

Here are some ideas and techniques to help keep communication open with your teenager. If they don 't work at first, keep trying. They take practice.

Listen, really listen. Because we all have so much to do and so little time, we often listen when we're cooking, cleaning, or fixing the car. When teenagers want to talk, put your chores aside so that you can really pay attention. But sometimes teenagers don't want that full blast of attention and can talk more easily when you're not looking at them, such as when you're driving.

Take the long view. Don't treat minor mishaps as catastrophes. Pick important issues so that you don't make your home into a battleground.

Respect your teenager's privacy. But if a particular behavior is worrying you, speak up.
Don't say, 'I know how you feel.  Teens regard their feelings as unique. They'll learn otherwise--without your help. And never imply that feelings don't matter or will change because teens live in the present. It doesn't matter that they will soon feel differently.
Don't judge. State facts, not opinions when you praise or criticize. If you say 'This report card is all C's and D's; how do you feel about that?  you might leave the door open for a discussion.

Praise your child's efforts, not just accomplishments. It's hard to live up to comments like 'You're a great artist.  But I loved that drawing  is a fact and comes from the heart.
Set reasonable limits. Teenagers need them. Your rules should be consistently applied and rooted in your deepest beliefs and values.

Find an activity you enjoy doing together and pursue it. If your invitation is declined, keep asking.

Teach your teenager to make sensible decisions by encouraging independence and letting him make some safe  mistakes. Don't step in unless you have to.

(Taken from Work & Family Life newsletter. Written by Lawrence Balter, Ph.D. and edited by Susan Ginsberg).



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