Why Does My Teen say, “You just don’t understand me”?
If you hear this come out of your teens mouth, do not ignore it or consider it disrespectful. In fact, take it as a huge red flag and be thankful that he verbalized it. He is telling you the key to his heart. He is crying out for you to connect.
Most parents spend their time trying to manage and control their teens behavior. Forget it! It’s too late for that. At this point in their life, they are going to do what they want to do. Your best bet is to be that person they WANT to talk to. As impossible as that may seem right now, it really isn’t difficult.
1. Connect at the heart level.
If you want to connect with your teen at the heart level, you first have to stop worrying about where he is and what he’s doing. He’s probably tired of being treated like a child. He wants the same thing you want – respect and empathy. He wants to be able to confide in you and feel safe sharing his heart. So how do you do this? Easy!
2. Identify and affirm.
Connecting at the heart level involves identifying and affirming their feelings. The opportunities to do this abound in your teens life. Disappointment and rejection abound in the life of a teen. Friends let you down, girlfriends and boyfriends break up, getting cut from the team, are all great opportunities to connect with your teen. In fact, the more negative the emotion, the more effective the process.
3. State your observation.
When you see your teen experiencing a negative emotion, simply state what you see. This may sound like, “I can see you are very disappointed”. Or, “being left out hurts!” Don’t lecture or give solutions. Just be there, be quiet and let them talk. They will eventually begin to respond by opening up to you. Maybe not at first, but as you do this more and more, they will begin to trust you.
4. Listen. Empathize.
When they do talk, listen, nod and affirm what they say. Do not lecture or give advice unless they ask. Over time, as you and your teen become more connected, then you can share your experiences. You may site a time when you had a similar feeling. Just don’t make it sound like a lecture. Just empathize.
Mother of eight children, Amy Hayes has learned a lot since becoming a first-time mother at age 19. After the birth of her first child, Ms. Hayes knew one thing – she wanted to raise her daughter in a positive atmosphere. Other than that, she was clueless. Within 18 months, her daughter was running her life. Stumbling across a parenting class, she enrolled. The tools Ms. Hayes learned in that class turned things around immediately in her home. This ignited a desire in her heart to share these simple tools with other parents. Since then she has continued to soak up all she can from the experts in various fields including parenting, psychology, neuroscience and human behavior. Putting it all together has been her passion. Ms. Hayes sees herself not as an expert, but as a resource to help those coming along behind her in their own parenting journey.