- Chill out. People often get defensive when we approach them with a conflict, if you are aggressive, angry or stressed they are likely to be unable to hear you out and even less likely to be motivated to give you what you want. Drink some water; go for a walk, make some notes about what it is that you really need to get out of the situation before approaching anyone.
- Think about the other person. Consider what the other person’s needs from the situation could be. What kind of resolution could work for both of you? Would you be willing to compromise on anything? Do they even know there is a problem?
- No set ups. Sending texts and emails like, “we need to talk” are a great way to get people amped up and/or anxious. Invite them to take a walk with you or bring them their favorite coffee in the morning to set up an environment of care and openness.
- Use ‘I’ statements. Good use of an ‘I’ statement: “I would like to explore our different needs for tidiness in our common spaces.” Poor use of ‘I’ statement: “I hate that you are such a slob!”
- Help the person understand what you felt and what you need.
- Allow the other person to be surprised, especially when they may not have been aware that you were going to bring this up. They may need a little time to process what you have just shared before they can really start to problem solve with you. Keep in mind, that if you feel defensive or upset by their reaction, you can also suggest that you table the discussion so that you have time to revisit step 1.
- Keep in mind that ‘your way’ may not work for everyone in the situation and you may need to be open to compromise.
Children and teens needs to feel heard and understood just as much as adults. With teens it is particularly important to listen more than speak in order to give them time to be understood. When parents do decide to speak, it can be most helpful to relate and empathize instead of teach or criticize.
All parents want to protect their children and give their children better than they were given. The challenge to each parent is to balance the need to protect their child from the world with the need to prepare them to face it on their own.
In order to remain approachable, parents must be physically present: dinners as a family, run errands together, pick them up from school or soccer practice whenever possible. Be around; be curious while trying to avoid prying.