When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.
– Dale Carnegie
I remember other mothers would share that advice with me, pick your battles. I often think of that now and feel what would have been more beneficial if the statement was, “pick your battles, but first view the situation from your teen’s perspective.” Well, that just made a huge difference. If I pick my battle based on my viewpoint and needs, the battle, the tone, and wording is very different than if I look at it from my teenagers point of view. What changed? I stopped. I thought, “What is my end goal in the battle I am going to go into?” Is the nagging and confrontation worth the reward? Is there a better way to pick my battle? The answer is yes.
Not everything is worth agonizing over. Not everything matters. What matters the most to you? When you think of what you’re going to nag your teen about in those terms, it becomes very different. The goal for me is to maintain my calm, to create communication, and build my relationship with my teen. Am I successful every time, no. I have spun into that anger and yelling and nagging. However, once I stop, apologize and think about how we both win in this situation the solution comes in a much calmer manner. For example, if your teen makes a snack and leaves the kitchen a total disaster, dishes in the sink, condiments on the counter. Focus on that. Share how that makes you frustrated and that you do not want to clean up the mess. Set the expectation of what is expected if your teen cooks in the kitchen and the consequences if they do not meet the expectations. The consequence can not be decided in the heat of the moment. It should be something decided upon when discussing expectations. The battle is eliminated and the ground rules are established.
Give your teen a pass when you know they’re overwhelmed, stressed, or have a lot on their plate. Do one of their chores for them. After all, taking the garbage out is not that difficult. We are trying to teach responsibility, and if your teen is focusing on school then they are learning to prioritize and as a parent we should encourage that. If you’re flexible and understanding, your teen will be flexible and understanding when you ask them to do something.
To me the end goal is to have a relationship with my teenager and to build trust. I am helping to create a person who has to go out into the world, and I want to make sure I role model and help them to practice the best life skills to create the success they want in their life.