Keeping the relationship with her
Any time our emotions start to take control during conflict or stressful situations with family, especially your teen daughter, you can bet that damage is done to the relationship.
It’s impossible to not have any emotion but it is possible to learn how to slow down more and pay attention to better ways to handle your emotion so you can keep the relationship with her.
Teen girls are fragile, especially when it comes to their view of themselves and their emotions. There is a natural sensitivity during this time. We don’t want to walk on eggshells but it is also really important to remember she is not an adult and her skin isn’t as thick and she can’t bounce back like an adult can from harsh words.
How you respond to her, especially during the hard times will determine if she will grow closer to you or move away. I often hear girls say that because of how mom or dad reacted in a given situation they would NOT be talking to them any more about certain subjects. That leaves her vulnerable and trying to handle life on her own which she is not equipped to do during the teen years.
So how do you keep the relationship with your teen daughter during conflict and problem solving?
In DBT we teach GIVE
- Be Gentle
- Act Interested
- Easy manner
This may seem simple but it can be really hard. Being nice and respectful in the midst of problems is not usually what people focus on but it is critical in keeping the relationship with her. This means…
No attacking – verbally or physically. Watch body language and the use of abusive language.
No threatening – it’s very easy to make a threat in the midst of conflict but be very careful. She actually does listen to what you say and those threats can be destructive. For example, don’t threaten to send her to a different school every time she acts up. When you make threats and then don’t follow through this is also a problem. She loses respect and won’t believe what you say. Also, threats can be very scary and creates a lot of unnecessary anxiety.
No judging – beware of making unnecessary comments that are judgmental in nature. Maybe your opinion is different but it doesn’t mean it’s better or that hers is wrong. Should’s and shouldn’ts can cause her to put up a wall.
No sneering – smirking, eye rolling, making faces are all hurtful and won’t help the relationship. Telling her something is stupid, dumb, ridiculous, etc… will cause her to shut down and shut you out. Just because you think it doesn’t mean you need to speak it!
Teen girls like to talk but they realize when you are really not interested in what they have to say. Making eye contact and shifting your focus to her while she is talking is really important. Putting down the phone or taking her aside so you can listen better all communicate care.
This is my favorite skill for parents. Using your words and your actions you can communicate to her that you are listening and that she matters. Her emotions are valid because she is feeling them. Telling her to stop it or she shouldn’t be feeling a certain way when she is can be hurtful and confusing.
Learn how to see the situation from her perspective and why she might be feeling a certain way or thinking about it like she does. Reflect that to her. Beware of making a scene. Girls get very self-conscious with correction in public. You are better off taking her to the side. It will help maintain the relationship and be much more effective.
Use an Easy Manner
When you can, use a “soft sell” over a “hard sell”. It is more effective. Use humor more and be less serious. She needs you to be approachable or she will not talk to you in the future.
No one is going to get this right all the time, but GIVE is a great guideline to aim for when working on communication with her. It models it to her and she truly will learn to have more respect during difficult times if she believes that talking with you will be productive instead of destructive.
After lots of positive feedback about the short-term groups for moms, we decided it was time to have ongoing support to help each other raise teen girls.
Katie is offering 2 ongoing options for local moms
- 2nd & 4th Monday each month 1pm-2pm
- 1st & 3rd Thursday each month 12pm - 1pm
For more information and to reserve your spot...