When your child isn’t talking with you about their challenges, it’s time to reflect on what you are saying that is contributing to their silence.
They aren’t trusting you enough to share with you. Rather than trying to get them to open up with questions, which feels like an interrogation, learn about the Supporter Parenting Role.
The Supporter Role uses the Supporter Problem-Solving Process to connect with their child and help them make decisions about challenges that are theirs. The parent expresses to their child, “This is your problem to solve and you’ll make the final decision. I’m here to be a sounding board and help you think about this challenge. I won’t tell you what to do or what I would do.”
The Supporter Problem-Solving Process is:
Step 1: Stop Blocking Communication
Step 2: Listen Openly
Step 3: Discuss Ideas and Let Your Child Choose a Solution
Step 4: Check-in Later
You will find details for each step in my book, Ally Parenting: A Non-Adversarial Approach to Transform Conflict Into Cooperation.
In order for your child to initially try this process with you, it’s important to tell them about the changes you are trying to make. If your relationship is not too damaged, your children will appreciate the opportunity to hear what you have to say and give you input on your behavior. If they don’t want to talk with you, then write down your self-realizations and let them read about it at their leisure. You can ask them later if you could talk with them about becoming their Supporter.
Here is the 10-step conversation process with your uncommunicative child that will start melting the wall that they have built. Your whole approach is that YOU will change first because you know that when you make positive changes, you will bring out more positive responses from your child. You are taking responsibility to fix the relationship. Remember, this process is how to reconnect so your child will open up and let you into their lives more than they do now.
Acknowledge that you’ve been too controlling and that may be one reason why they don’t want to share with you.
Do not make excuses for your past controlling behavior such as, “I was just trying to help you”, etc.
Take FULL RESPONSIBILITY to change yourself. Don’t tell your child to change. When you change, you will bring out a different response from your teen.
Share that you’ve been learning about words you’ve been saying that might be causing them to not talk with you.
Use VERY TENTAIVE words such as, might. You don’t want to sound like a know-it-all.
Ask them if they would be willing to look at your list of communication blocks and tell you which ones you do. Ask your child for specific words you say that cause them to shut down.
Ask for the two communication blocks they want you to work on changing first.
Tell them a respectful way they can let you know you are blocking such as “you’re interrogating” in a nonconfrontational tone.
Get support from another adult. Study together the communication blocks you use. Practice the empathetic phrases you can use instead so you will keep the communication going.
While interacting with your child, watch for situations where you previously blocked, and respond instead with empathetic phrases so your child will start to trust that you do want to change.
Children respond well to hearing you admit you need to change as well as being asked their opinions about your behavior. It can be challenging putting aside your thoughts of, but my child needs to change, too. This is probably true, however they are immature and you are the adult. So, remember, in order to melt their walls of hurt, change yourself first, which is the only place you have power; so use it wisely as a Supporter.
©2018 Cynthia Klein, Bridges 2 Understanding, has been a Certified Parenting Educator since 1994. She works with parents and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between adults and children. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking, private parenting coaching sessions, and her book, Ally Parenting: A Non-Adversarial Approach to Transform Conflict Into Cooperation. She works with parents of 5 – 25 year-old children.
To learn how Cynthia can help you solve your specific challenges, contact Cynthia at bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com, , or 650. 679.8138 to have a complementary 45-minute discovery session. Why keep suffering? It’s time to change!