Negotiating With Your Teenager Is Difficult But Vital
Adolescence is often known as a rebellious stage in life. Children go through a series of hormonal changes, and at the same time are searching to find their own identity. All of this causes them to desire independence. They start to believe that their parents don’t understand them and that they can control their own lives. Therefore, at this difficult stage of their lives, you need to learn the skills of negotiating with your teenager.
Negotiating with your teenager will not only bring you fewer headaches, it will help them feel that they’re being treated like an adult. This will encourage them to comply with the agreements you make. It will also help you to talk about and resolve the difficult situations that arise. But above all, it will help them feel loved.
Opening negotiations with your teenage child will transmit the idea that you are taking their opinion into account. This will increase their confidence that they can share what is worrying them.
Sometimes teens tend to become distant, and, as we don’t know how to approach them, they end up feeling very lonely. They feel their parents don’t understand them and that they cannot trust them. Therefore, negotiating with your teenager can significantly improve these circumstances.
Negotiating with your teenager contributes values
All parents know how important it is to transmit values from an early age. Healthy values that allow young people to direct their behavior and make the right decisions for themselves. However, we don’t always know how to do this correctly. Negotiating with your teenager is one of them. But what does this way of doing things teach us and them?
- It improves emotional management – negotiating with your teenager will allow them to learn how to negotiate too. They will realize that it is very difficult to reach an agreement when one of the parties involved is being controlled by anger, frustration or sadness.
- It brings confidence and coherence – incoherence in family relationships can trigger emotional explosions in your teenager. Negotiating will help you all to trust each other and to be coherent with what you say, think and do.
- It helps to express feelings – to negotiate with your teenager you have to talk honestly. You should express how each of the members feels and provide possible solutions to a conflict. This will help your teenager express their feelings and say what they think without assuming that we won’t understand them.
“Teenagers seem the most difficult people to educate, but if you succeed, your teachings will last a lifetime.”
Setting the limits
Everyone knows that there need to be agreements, limits and certain rules that make living together easier and help the avoidance of conflicts. As we have rules with our partner, such as not stepping on the rugs with dirty feet, in the same way we must have them with our children.
We need to agree on a time that they have to be back if they go out with their friends. Also on certain prohibited activities inside or outside the home (smoking, drinking alcohol, friends sleeping over etc.). For each family the agreements will vary. The ideal thing is to negotiate, hear the points of view of the different members and establish certain rules that everyone considers to be fair.
Errors we make in negotiating with teenagers
Negotiating with your teenager is not as easy as it may seem. But this difficulty sometimes doesn’t come from the child, but from you as a parent. The belief that what you say goes, exercises an almost dictatorial authority in the home, not taking into account the opinions of your teenager. All of this can sabotage a negotiation before it even starts.
That is why you need to treat your teenage child as a person who is maturing, growing and learning. They are no longer small children. They are people with opinions, able to figure out many of the mistakes that they make, and the ones that you make too. It is true that it will never be and should not be a symmetric relationship, but ideally, this asymmetry will decrease over the years. Listening to your children can allow you to learn a lot about yourself.
When negotiating with your teenager you have to eliminate certain “misrepresentations”. One of these would be “I am your father so do what I say”. This is a terrible approach in negotiations. It imposes a principle of authority that prevents any type of dialogue. When parents abuse this principle, it is quite normal for the child to stop expressing what they think. They will either do things secretly and hope their parents don’t find out, or will directly disobey the desires of their parents. But one thing is sure, they won’t bother discussing things because they know there’ll be no chance of a solution.
You should also avoid any attempts to manipulate, as well as inconsistencies. If you have already agreed something, then you should never break that agreement. Many parents do, and try and justify it with statements such as “I’m not going to change what I’ve done my whole life” or “I can do what I want but you can’t”. These situations will just create anger and will drive your teen even further away.
“Adolescence is the most confusing stage of life. We are treated like children, but expected to act like adults”.
The consequences of committing certain errors when negotiating with your teenager are that the relationship with them may be severely impaired. There will be no harmony or possibility of growth. We should remember that we can all learn from everyone. As a parent, you are also a guide. However, this doesn’t mean you should be authoritarian and impose things, and just expect your teenage child to comply. Why not talk about it and negotiate? This won’t mean you’ll lose their respect, nor will it make the relationship a symmetrical one.
We have to take into account that our children are people with feelings, and during adolescence they begin to build their identity and define their values. They can think for themselves, have certain opinions on different topics and we should respect them more and more as they grow. If we learn to negotiate wisely with them, then our relationship with our children, which we value so much, will greatly benefit.