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​Talking with Your ChildIssue1234

Acceptance ​​​Before Change

It may seem odd at times, but teenagers ​are ​people too. You read that correctly. Your adolescent son or daughter is a person first and a teen second. We say this may seem odd because from an adult's point of ​view, teenagers are alien creatures whose behavior most of us - parents, relatives, teachers and employers - would like to see change.

If you want to change your teen's behavior - or, more accurately, if you want your teen to change his or her behavior - simply issuing edicts "from on high" is likely not the best way to do it. If you want your teen's behavior to change, you must first accept him or her for who he or she is. Because without your acceptance, your teen will likely see and only hear disrespect, disapproval and criticism. And this will almost certainly be met with resistance.

It should be noted this works for adults too. Think about it: would you be willing to change a fundamental part of your character for someone whom you did not respect and from whom you received only disapproval and criticism?

The bottom line is people will not change their behavior ​for others if they don't feel accepted by them first.

Teaching Activity

Find Acceptance

Your assignment is to find something to accept about your teen and to praise him or her for it as a prerequisite for a change in behavior. For example, perhaps your teenage son has entered an antisocial phase, preferring to spend most of his time in his room with headphones on making electronic music on his computer. Instead of ordering him to shut his laptop and engage with the rest of the family, ask to hear some of his music. Take an interest in what he's doing. And, above all, praise his creativity and talent. If you do this, he is much more likely to understand your position when you explain that, while you're very proud of his creative passions, you also want him to remain a part of the family - and that means he can't spend all his time in his bedroom shut off from the world. This is only one example, of course. Whatever behavior you want to see changed, make sure you find at least one aspect of your teen that you can accept and praise.

Social Skills

Showing Appreciation

This social skill is a good one for both your teen and for you. After all, we're talking acceptance here, which is a two-way street. So when showing appreciation for someone, follow these steps:

  • Look - at the person.
  • Use - a pleasant, sincere voice tone.
  • Say - "Thank you for..." and specifically describe what the person did that you appreciate.
  • Give - a reason for why it was so beneficial, if appropriate.
  • Offer - future help or favors on your part.

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Boys Town has been working with kids for nearly a century. We've taken what we've learned and developed parenting advice and tools that you won't find anywhere else. We hope you found this email series helpful for your family.​

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