In my last blog, I wrote about how to deal with resistance from your tween and teen, and gave you an example of a dialogue between a mother and son. I would suggest you reference that blog for this one to make sense.
What if the son, Tommy, did not comply with his mother to bring in the groceries, and insisted that no, he had to do his math homework and then he abruptly walked out of the room?
Meanwhile, the mother goes out to the car and empties the groceries herself.
Not the optimal way to handle things.
Here’s another scenario and one which often works, because teens need to know you have expectations for them, and those expectations do not go away simply by walking out of the room and refusing to comply with a request.
The mother goes to Tommy’s room later on and says,
“This afternoon, I asked you to help me bring in the groceries, and you didn’t. Sometimes I need you to help. Leaving me to do it myself was not okay.”
The above statement is short and to the point and effective because it makes Tommy feel guilty and now there’s nothing he can do about it. The damage was done. Tommy may try to defend himself or go on the counterattack, but he will be doing this to his mother’s back who is already leaving the room and not listening anymore.
This simple statement accomplishes more than you think, because it leaves Tommy stuck with a bad feeling and probably a little remorse. He knows he acted poorly, and his mother didn’t like it and will remember it. The memory of his mother’s disappointment in him will definitely linger, and when he is requested to do something under similar circumstances, he is much more likely to comply.
The message to Tommy is there are things I expect you to do, and those expectations do not go away simply because you’ve shrugged them off. Even if you ignore what I ask of you, my requests will always keep coming.
Another great book written by Anthony E. Wolf, Ph.D. offers practical dialogue-based advice for parents of teens, and is titled, “Get Out of My Life But First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall?” Obviously, he writes with humor, and it’s a great training manual for parenting teens.