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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 8:04 am 
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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.


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.


Yes and yes! I was one of those kids who had near perfect grades up until middle school, and all the sudden the work got really hard for me. My grades were still good, but I wasn't breezing through everything like I used to. So I'd come home with all A's except for one B, and we'd spend a ton of time talking about how I'm so smart and I can do better than that. Never mind the fact that I worked my asparagus off for that B (usually science or history) and barely had to work for the A's (math, English, etc.).

Okay, but a thing that did help: my parents were divorced, and I lived with my mom, and my dad usually had a job as some kind of delivery guy or courier, always working on the weekends. So on our weekend visits, I would just ride around with him in the car all day. He would always tell me really great stories about the stupid stuff he did when he was younger, and how appreciative he was of his parents' forgiveness and help when he got in a bad spot. And he would remind me over and over how he would be supportive and love me no matter what stupid mistakes I made. I never got into much trouble when I was young but I felt safe knowing I had someone I could talk to without a lot of judgement. I think he was mostly able to do that because he wasn't the primary person responsible for discipline (since I didn't live with him) but it was really nice.

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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 10:54 am 
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This thread is fantastic and has so much good advice! My niece is 11 and I cringe at a lot of the things her parents do (criticizing the one bad thing on an otherwise fabulous report card, always being distracted/on the iphone when they talk to her, etc) so I'm glad to hear some alternative ideas. She lives with her mom, stepfather, siblings, and my parents. It's a house full of people and she rarely gets one-on-one time with any of the adults. I usually go there once a week at most and this thread is helping me realize that when I do go there, my attention is divided between her, her 2 brothers, my sister, and my parents. So I think this summer I'll try to spend some time with each of the kids separately once a week or every other week or something somewhat regularly. I'll implement a no phone policy and ask her about what she learned and we'll do art stuff together.


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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:10 am 
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One thing my mum did, and still does, and my 13yo brother moans to me about is, she starts a conversation with you, and then walks out while still talking. If you call her out on it, she says "I'm busy, I have lots to do, follow me to talk". Which is cool, being busy is fine, especially if you're a busy mum.
But, I know my brother would love if she just sat down and chatted with him. Rather than him being just another of her multi-tasks, for five minute's he's her only task. It's like in any relationship, make time for each other. Having a chat and the phone rings? Let it go to voicemail, it's not the end of the world. If you've got something in the oven that'll need checking on in two minutes and the kid starts talking, say "sure I can talk but my cookies will be done in 2 minutes so I don't have long" - let them know your time restrictions. And if all they want to do is talk for five minutes going through the exact details of their day, let them. Sometimes it's just good to have a little rant. And when they get older you can rant back! My mum and I now regularly just have times when we moan at each other, it's actually rather theraputic.

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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2013 5:58 pm 
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I was reminded of something from when I was in Kindergarden that seemed like it might fit in this thread. In my class we used those fat, blue pencils that didn't have an eraser on them, so if you needed to erase, you had to ask the teacher. We were practicing handwriting, I think the letter a, and were supposed to make them touch the "magic lines". I made an a that did not touch the bottom line. And I don't mean just barely didn't touch. It was at least 1/8th inch, if not more, off the line. So I raised my hand and asked the student teacher for an eraser. She told me I didn't need one, but I kept saying my a didn't touch the magic lines and she just kept telling me it was fine. It was very distressing and kind of made me feel like I was going crazy because I could see that it didn't touch and she seemingly saw it touching. It would have made a world of difference if she had said, "You're right, it's not touching the magic line, but that's ok if just one doesn't touch. It doesn't have to be perfect." To her adult mind, that was probably understood, but to my little mind, it was not.

I try to carry that with me in my conversations with my kids. I try to validate that they are seeing, feeling, hearing what they think they are, even if my reaction to it is different from theirs. I think that's probably really useful with teenagers too. I'm going to try to just keep that habit and help my kiddos feel heard even when they are being told no.


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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2013 7:13 pm 
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b.vicious wrote:
Yes and yes! I was one of those kids who had near perfect grades up until middle school, and all the sudden the work got really hard for me. My grades were still good, but I wasn't breezing through everything like I used to. So I'd come home with all A's except for one B, and we'd spend a ton of time talking about how I'm so smart and I can do better than that. Never mind the fact that I worked my asparagus off for that B (usually science or history) and barely had to work for the A's (math, English, etc.).


I was similar, in that I had straight As in stuff like English and German, but was terrible at maths and chemistry. I worked really hard at them and managed to scrape Bs. I think my dad was trying to put the emphasis on effort rather than natural ability (which I definitely didn't have!), and he would always say 'you just have to apply yourself next time'. I appreciate what he was trying to say, but it kind of hurt that it sounded like 'you didn't try hard enough this time, but if you actually put in the effort then you'll get an A'- especially when I'd been locked in my room studying something I barely understood for hours. I think the more important thing to do is adapt to your kid's expectations and feelings about the grade, because I was always stoked to have managed to get a B and would have appreciated him sharing my excitement about (what I thought) was a pretty good grade. That would have meant infinitely more than him being excited about me having won the school prize for German (which I never hard to study hard for).

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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2013 8:19 pm 
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DEG wrote:
*snip*

I try to carry that with me in my conversations with my kids. I try to validate that they are seeing, feeling, hearing what they think they are, even if my reaction to it is different from theirs. I think that's probably really useful with teenagers too. I'm going to try to just keep that habit and help my kiddos feel heard even when they are being told no.


I'm so glad you said this. Validating kids feelings and what they experience is so important! Telling kids "Oh, you're not upset, it's not that bad. Stop crying" is invalidating their experience and their feelings. It tells them they can't trust their own feelings. It teaches them to look to others for how they "should" feel about things. It makes them afraid to have any feelings of sadness, anger, etc because they learn they shouldn't have them and they should be able to shut them off - they don't learn how to process the feelings or deal with them in a healthy way. So yes yes yes please validate your kids' feelings and help them deal with them healthily if possible. "I understand you're upset that you can't have the toy. That really makes you feel angry." And if they can't calm down helping them count to 10 or whatever age appropriate coping skill. Validating is so important!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2013 10:48 pm 
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yeah, when i was maybe 10, i was helping my dad install a waterproof outdoor electrical socket thing, and the lid snapped closed on my finger, and i started crying (which i don't remember really doing all that much of, honestly. and i doubt i was even wailing during this event.) and he told me that it didn't hurt and to stop crying. i know he was trying to toughen me up, but it backfired, and i'm assuming because of this (but maybe not. it could be a combination of things), i'm emotionally stunted. (and still feel pain when physically hurt.)
i remember going to my room right after this, but i don't remember if it was because he told me to go away, or if i left of my own accord, but i'm feeling as if it was the meaner option.

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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Sun Apr 28, 2013 4:08 pm 
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Today i took my kid out for breakfast [we went away for the weekend, and i left Mr T sleeping and we went out by ourselves after my run]. we had a nice weekend together, few meltdowns [though she missed her cosplay convention, which was a huge heartbreak for her]; she told me that one of her classmates got dragged to the gyno by her father because he learned she had a boyfriend and he [the dad] "wanted her virginity confirmed". I was so angry i almost fell off my chair. [this is not any more acceptable in Brazil than it would be in the US]. Sometimes i think i'm doing a terrible job parenting and then she tells me something like that and i think, meh, maybe i'm doing ok.

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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2013 11:28 am 
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torque wrote:
Sometimes i think i'm doing a terrible job parenting and then she tells me something like that and i think, meh, maybe i'm doing ok.


Oh god, me too times a thousand. Or sometimes I think I am doing a great job, things are going smoothly and then one of them says something to me about something that has been bothering him for ages, or something he hates about me. I live in dread that one of my brothers (I raised after mum died)/one of my kids will write a memoir, fictionalized novel, play or song about something terrible I did they can't forget. My oldest son actually wrote and directed a play in high school based on the years one of my brothers lived with us during his struggles with a severe mental illness. We are not a chatty family and I didn't realize that he was so worried about his uncle and our family.

One thing I try to do with my kids is, before I react or speak, try and think of how I would feel or what I would say to an adult in that situation. I find it so easy to get annoyed at certain things they do or say when I wouldn't get annoyed at another adult, so putting myself in that frame of mind makes me kinder toward them. I don't speak to them in the same way as an adult, as their needs from me are different, but I do want to treat them as independent, thinking people.

Another thing that I do is try to be receptive for a period each day. Like I said, we are not a chatty family and I do tend to get caught up in all the things I want to get done when I am not at work, but I try to have some period during the evening when I am reading the newspaper or crocheting in the living room, when the kids know that they can come and talk to me or just sit in the same room and "parallel play" in a calm and happy way.


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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2013 11:37 am 
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I kind of think worrying about whether or not you are doing a good job is a sign of being a good parent. I don't think the crappy ones worry. Sounds like you're doing great.


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 Post subject: Re: Good Things to Say to Teenagers
PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:37 pm 
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Hah. My dad always did the "what did you learn today?" and it always annoyed me. I was so unfair to my poor dad. He tried, and tried, and tried to get me interested in science to no avail. Until 20 years later, after the poor guy had given up. I've done that with other things too. He used to always pick the opposite if I would ask him for advice, just to make sure Id pick his selection.

I like telling my students that something they did is "perfect." kids are so used to hearing what they did wrong, what they should change or do better, so I think it's nice for them to hear that they got it, no qualifications. I always get a big smile and a "really?" when I say it. I wish this would motivate them to try harder more often!

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