At Mid-Peninsula High School, well meaning parents discovered that words they thought were helpful were actually blocking communication. Their words had underlying hurtful messages. Responding with truly empathetic comments when your teen is struggling is quite challenging.
Here are some common ways parents respond to teenagers that actually shuts down communication. Learn why well meaning parents are really hurting their teens feelings and self-esteem.
Communication Blocks Examples
Teen: “I don’t like my stupid teacher. She’s mean to me.”
Adult: “What did you do to make him yell? You must have done something wrong.”
The underlying message that feels hurtful: “You must have messed up somewhere.”
Teen: “I just can’t do this. It’s too hard.”
Adult: “Stop complaining. I know you can do it.”
The underlying message that feels hurtful: “You don’t have the right to decide how to handle your own problems.”
Teen: “My best friend can’t come to my party. He’s no friend of mine.”
Adult: “Honey, it will be okay. You’ll have fun with all your other friends.”
The underlying message that feels hurtful: “You don’t have a right to your feelings; you can’t handle discomfort (and neither can I).”
Teen: “I don’t understand why friends just turn on me. What did I do?”
Adult: “I had that happen to me when I was your age and I felt horrible.”
The underlying message that feels hurtful: “It’s more important, (or I’m more comfortable), for me to talk about myself rather than you right now.”
Which ones of these blocks do you have a tendency to do?
Cynthia Klein has been a Certified Parent Educator since 1994. She teaches how to create greater adult-child cooperation through speaking, private coaching, webinars and her Middle School Mom column in Parenting on the Peninsula magazine. bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com is her website.