A cooperative teen – is there such a thing? A pleasantly cooperative teen – now there’s a rare creature! And why do most teens rebel, seemingly strive to be annoyingly uncooperative, desperate to challenge you on every occasion, even when it’s to their benefit not to be difficult? It’s due to a little matter of independence – which is not so little to the teen! And it’s also very unconscious behavior on their part, so hold your annoyance (not easy to do, I know).
Independence is how they grow and eventually leave your nest, which is what you ultimately want. You both want the same thing in the end, but the way that it happens – constant bumping of heads – can be so very trying to the parent’s sanity!
Parents can often be deemed the “enemy”- the one who is always making them do what they don’t want to do, or stopping them from doing what they want to do
Teen: I’ll do as I want!
Parent: No, you’ll do exactly as I say!
Then off we go, as yet another fight begins. And you find your insides churning every time you have to ask your teen to do the simplest thing…
So how do you lessen the hostility and engage cooperation? That’s certainly the desired solution, instead of enduring years of degrees of mental anguish.
This is best accomplished not by manipulating the teen’s behavior but rather by speaking to what’s best in the teen – his intelligence, her initiative, his sense of responsibility, her sense of humor, his ability to be sensitive to the needs of others, her empathy.
The use of language that nourishes self-esteem rather than wounding the spirit is another way to engage cooperation.
Also, creating an emotional environment that encourages cooperation, a true demonstration that you care, also works.
Know that the tone behind words is as important, if not more important, than the words themselves. For developing adolescents to thrive, parental attitude should communicate, “You’re basically a lovable capable person. Right now there’s a problem that needs attention. Once you’re made aware of it, you will probably respond responsibly.”
Of no help and actually damaging is a defeating attitude that communicates, “You’re basically irritating and inept. You’re always doing something wrong, and this latest incident is one more proof of your wrongness.”
Two-way respectful communication is a skill to be developed and a gift to be passed on and maintained for the teen’s entire life. How are you doing with that?