Well, if you read my articles on a regular basis, you know that the give-away is in the title. If you don’t read my articles... boy am I p***ed off! But seriously. Anger is a huge issue these days. Is it more than other generations? That’s really not the issue if you are around a child who has major anger issues.
As in most things, anger issues are multi-factorial.
Any one, two or three things may push it up the heat thermometer, but it is the aggregate of 7’s, 8’s and more that bring you into the sphere of danger.
So how do we go from: “No! You’re not listening to me!!!” (for the one hundredth time) to smashed walls, tv’s a.d worse? It is all about communication. If neither side feels like they are getting their message across and both sides feels they know what the other is going to say and you’ve heard it all before, then you are in a mobius loop of mood.
Four Steps for changing the dynamics and having a (sometimes) harmonious home:
Take turns being the listener or the speaker. Whichever you begin with, do the whole process before changing sides.
1) Listen without interruption. Listen with intention. Avoid any non-verbal cues that are anything but supportive. Your goal is to hear the speaker as if you have never heard them before or know their history.
2) Repeat back what you have heard in your own words. Do not add commentary. Ask if what you heard is correct and let the speaker correct or change as they choose and repeat back again their changes.
3) Empathize on how they feel. This is not about right or wrong. This is about hearing them and their point of view. The truth is, the gap between parents and children has never been greater thanks to the breakneck pace of change the world has entered.
4) Validate. Let them know how it makes sense how they would feel like they do coming from their state of mind.
This process should take place in an unregular place (like a basement couch, some chairs in the hallway; some place that you guys have never, ever yelled in.
This process should be tried in calmer times, not when the proverbial poop hits the fan.
Expect it to take around 12 weeks to build the mutual listening skills.
Once it has taken hold, you can try a time out in a heated moment to try the system and if at first it doesn’t succeed, keep trying.
One final note (in case you hadn’t guessed)... in regards to this column’s title: you can’t control your teens anything but you can inspire them to communicate by letting both sides be open to listening.