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 Post subject: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:36 am 
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Seagull of the PPK
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I noticed recently that so many of us have strong such strong, persistent memories of bad things people said to us as teens ["you'd be so pretty if you lost a little weight"; "i know a poet like you won't be happy in Calculus"; "you'd have more friends if you were more positive"]; at the same time, like any other substandard parent of a teen i sometimes find myself unthinkingly repeating some of these horrible things that were said to me. It's horrifying. I know it would be more effective [in parenting terms] and probably kinder to just set my head on fire than to say such things to my kid.

But instead such extreme measures, i would like to increase my stock of good things to say instead of those stupid nasty things that sometimes pop out. Yes, i am that fool who needs to rehearse so that in the moment i don't blurt out hurtful stuff. don't hate me, i'm trying.

Some things are easy like "i will always support you". But i feel like i kind of just say the same things over and over again.
what is the best thing someone said to you? what would you have liked to have heard? i'm curious what you think from your own experience as a teen.

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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:47 am 
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When I was a teenager, whenever it was just my dad and me in the car, he'd ask me what I learned that day and then tell me what he learned.


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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:15 am 
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I'm not a parent, but I have been a teenager. I hope you don't mind my commenting.

That's nice Mollyjade! My father would't admit he had anything to learn!

If you make a mistake, or you overreact and say something awful, being able to tell your kid you did so, and you are sorry, and you will try not to do it again. That would have made a world of difference to me.


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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 11:32 am 
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mollyjade, that is AWESOME. i never would have thought of that. it is a nice change to the usual "what did you do in school today" which everyone hates!

erynne, we've all been teens [and i bet there are teenage people on the board too]. i would love to hear from everybody, not just parents [and it would appear putting it in the playground was not so smart.].
about your advice, that is great. i also could have used that when i was a kid, and try to implement it with my own kid.

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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 11:40 am 
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"I'm really proud of you." and "I love you." These were the things I liked to hear the best as a teenager and heard too little. Hugs and kisses are also really important, even if she resists them. When my mother and I have talked about my childhood, I remember her almost never hugging me (which I really, really wanted her to do) while she remembers me being resistant to hugging. Hug her anyway.

The other thing I really wanted as a teenager was to have my parents' total attention when I was talking. For them not to be doing dishes, paying bills, folding laundry, whatever, when I was trying to have a conversation. I wanted more opportunities to talk and be heard. One thing I tried when I was 16 or 17 was asking my mother to take a walk for me (which I couched as "we both need exercise" to make happen). It was easier for me to talk if we weren't looking at each others' faces and it was more likely that she wouldn't be distracted. We only did it a couple times, but it was really good. You can do the same thing in the car.

No appearance comments besides "you look great" and similar. "You are beautiful" goes a long way. You can't say it too much.

Ask her opinion about something, anything.


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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 11:51 am 
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I like a lot of Ariann's ideas! "I love you" was not a phrase in our house for anyone. Now that I have kids I can't imagine not saying it to them daily!
also, sorry that this falls more in the "don'ts" category but one thing my dad did whenever we had to go somewhere in the car was lecture me. Captive audience! His conversational style unfortunately runs between interrogation and lecturing...I recognize now that his "20 questions" nonsense was really just trying to find out what was going on in the mind of a close-lipped teenager but I really did not appreciate it. Even if I wasn't in trouble, I dreaded car rides with him because he would inevitably harp on some topic about things I should or shouldn't do.
But one nice thing is having something in common to discuss with a kid - for us it was literature and I really enjoyed (still do, actually) talking about books and authors with him. So, finding a common interest even if it means you having to branch out a little is really cool.


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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 12:03 pm 
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thank you!!!!

we do really have good talks in the car, but i know i tend to become a spouter sometimes when i'm angry.

ariann, i don't think i ever really got much attention from my mom once i was a teen [my younger siblings are 10 years younger, so she was kind of busy]. i can only imagine what having her to myself once in a while might have been like.

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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 12:40 pm 
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I think one thing that is important is showing your kids that they are entitled to their own opinions. So many parents seem to press their views upon their kids, which is part of what parenting is, but i think it's important for both parties to understand that it's okay to disagree about stuff. You can still love each other and be a happy family even if you have different views. My dad is really into politics, and he always asks me my opinion on whatever is going on. It's definitely nice to be treated as an equal, not just as a kid who doesn't know anything or have anything to offer.

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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 12:41 pm 
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I guess looking back on the things that bugged me, I would say focus on the positive. My mom had a way of looking at a stellar report card, and finding the one negative and commenting on it. Almost like it was a given I would get good grades, so she didn't need to say anything about that. It didn't affect my motivation, or how I did in school, or any grand thing, but it did make me lose respect for her and stop caring about what she thought. I wish she could have just said, "nice job" and left it at that. And if she wanted to talk to me about the inevitable comment that I talk too much in class, maybe wait a little while to have that conversation separated from the nice job one.


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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 12:53 pm 
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If your daughter is frank enough to talk to you about going to second base with her boyfriend, don't call her a hors d'oeuvre. I'm just sayin'.

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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 1:18 pm 
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torque wrote:
mollyjade, that is AWESOME. i never would have thought of that. it is a nice change to the usual "what did you do in school today" which everyone hates!

I think the fact that he had a thing to share, too, was really important. The idea that learning is something you do your whole life and that there's value in what you learn at school. What you learn in school often seems so unimportant at the time.

Something my mother-in-law does that I've always really admired and and am trying to learn to do is that she really engages with her kids about their interests. She can listen and (at least try to) understand when my husband talks about computer programming or another of her kids talks about photography or some other project. She asks good questions and remembers to follow up on the conversation later. I think it's one of the reasons she's so close to her kids now that they're all (mostly) grown up.


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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 1:18 pm 
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Whoa, TCC!


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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 1:25 pm 
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I wouldn't exactly call my in-laws paragons of parenting, but they have always asked their kids for advice about stuff and their kids, who are in their 30s, still appreciate it. My husband and his brother are responsible for any new gadgetry in their parents' house because they are considered the experts, they get consulted on major purchases like cars, and my MIL calls my husband frequently for professional advice (they are in the same field, although she has been in it a lot longer she thinks his advice is really valuable and he is more expert in certain areas).


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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 1:30 pm 
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DEG wrote:
I guess looking back on the things that bugged me, I would say focus on the positive. My mom had a way of looking at a stellar report card, and finding the one negative and commenting on it. Almost like it was a given I would get good grades, so she didn't need to say anything about that. It didn't affect my motivation, or how I did in school, or any grand thing, but it did make me lose respect for her and stop caring about what she thought. I wish she could have just said, "nice job" and left it at that. And if she wanted to talk to me about the inevitable comment that I talk too much in class, maybe wait a little while to have that conversation separated from the nice job one.


I agree with this. Give praise when deserved, unadulturated by any negative comments. Save those for later!


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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 2:01 pm 
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I like this thread.

I think praising the effort is a great thing to do. I feel like my parents would praise or scold based on the result. And for parents with more than one kid, don't compare them. Oh and if your kid asks if she is pretty, don't say "everyone is pretty in their own way."

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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 2:07 pm 
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I know I wish my parents had praised my effort instead of natural ability--you worked so hard versus you're so smart. I never call kids smart now unless I know they don't believe they are.

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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 2:10 pm 
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My mother said something that touched me in a huge way once when I was having a life-decision related meltdown coupled with some self esteem stuff from letting a boy walk all over me. It went, roughly: "You know, I have watched you grow into this wonderful, interesting young woman full of potential, and it kills me that you are not in a place to see that in yourself now. But one of the things I am most looking forward to in the next few years, is the moment when you will, and when you will love yourself as much as I love you now". As a full-on self absorbed teenage, I think it had never occurred to me that someone might see something positive in me that I didnt see myself.


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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 2:22 pm 
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I wish my parents would have been more supportive of my early relationships, but I also I wish they would have explained what healthy relationships look like and how to know when it's time to move on. I had really low self esteem before I started dating my first boyfriend, so even though I sort of knew it wasn't working, I thought he was the best I could do.

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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 5:02 pm 
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I don't remember anything specific said to me that was great and I didn't have parents (my elder brother and sister mostly looked after me) but something my brother did that was amazing was sharing all his interests with us. You know, he was stuck babysitting all the time and he really made the most of it. He never stayed home and sulked about it, he just took us along on whatever he wanted to do anyway and taught us about art, literature, nature. Bought us real oil paints and canvasses and let us Picasso it up. He would often take us on field trips. It was a very creative environment to grow up in and a lot of the interests he shared with us stuck with me. It's too bad he never had children of his own because he was the most amazing father and all he really did, to sum it up, was pay attention, take an interest and put some quality time in.

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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 5:12 pm 
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SV, how wonderful of your brother!

I've been thinking about this, because my mother was so verbally abusive to me, and its scary but I know that I could easily say them to Leela. I think its good to remember to take a really big breath and say "I love you so much" even when you're annoyed at them, just to get present to the fact that you really do love them.

How to Talk so Kids Can Listen and Listen So Kids Can Talk has some great ideas, and my friend has been using them with her 14 year old with great success. Its funny, but toddler and teens, and probably adults too :) all really respond to many of the same things. Feeling like someone is really listening, having their feelings heard and their efforts praised using specifics instead of generalities. I also really love the idea of not tagging a negative comment onto a positive one. And the rule of 3 positive interactions for every negative one....

http://www.newfangledideas.org/index.ph ... wdoc&id=18

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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 5:39 pm 
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Such a good thread! A lot of this translates to young kids too, I think. I've apologized to many preschoolers in my classes when I said no without a good reason, or didn't fully listen, etc. And praising with stuff that isn't physical is such a biggie with the younger set, even I fall into the trap of complimenting a little girl's dress once in awhile!


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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 7:09 pm 
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my dad and i didn't have the greatest relationship when i was a teen (he was the disciplinarian, so i was kind of scared of him) but i look back now and he did really do some things right. and in lots of ways, he's doing even better now. he was always really enthusiastic about whatever our "thing" was. mine was art and he didn't know a thing about it, but he always had something really uplifting to say. my mom was the critic, she was who i went to when i needed expert advice on how to make something work, but my dad usually made me feel really talented and successful.

just yesterday he texted me from thailand where he's at a conference to tell me he's thinking of me and he thinks my business idea (which i'd been telling my mom about) was SO COOL. haha. it was really sweet that he thought of me and texted at probably like 3am his time.


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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:56 am 
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in the spirit of derailing my own thread: FC is starting to get some acne, and it is starting to intensify. She's been equipped with all the usual anti-acne accoutrements, to no avail. I ask her, "did you wash your face?" and it's always a no.
Last night, she took a shower. I asked her. No. So I said "would you like me to wash your face for you?" [not snarky, nicely] and she said yes. So I gave her a little facial. She was very happy. What a pleasant change from the usual.

[although there is no chance in hell i am going to floss her teeth]


ETA: thanks for your ideas. I really appreciate all your input. perhaps there is hope for me after all.

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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:43 am 
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Well, one thing I always hated was when people said "wow you are so good at this for your age/for being a girl". I guess, it would have been awesome just to hear "you're really good at this" & "you did well", plain and simple.

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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 7:01 am 
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strawberryrock wrote:
I know I wish my parents had praised my effort instead of natural ability--you worked so hard versus you're so smart. I never call kids smart now unless I know they don't believe they are.


Aye, this definitely. As a teen I was always told "you're really intelligent" "you're lovely and tall" etc etc. I felt like I only ever got complimented on things they said I was rather than things I did. I didn't have a wonderful self image so complimenting me by telling me I was pretty/intelligent went straight over my head. But what did feel good was, when someone complimented something I actually did, something I put effort into. Even just saying that I'd done my hair nicely was a good compliment. Or telling me I seemed like I was being responsible.

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