Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Didn't I Just Ask You To.....? How Many Times A Day Do You Ask That Question?

ZITS Comic:

Jeremy's mom asks as she looks at the pig sty mess surrounding her son: Didn't I just ask you to put this stuff away?
Jeremy: No
Mom showing Jeremy a video she recorded 2 minutes earlier that says: "Jeremy, will you please put this stuff away?"
Jeremy: How was I supposed to know that you were talking to me????
Mom holding Jeremy's head in looking straight into his eyes: Jeremy. Clean. Up. This Mess.
Jeremy's friend who has witnessed this entire exchange: Wow. Your mom is really a good communicator.
Jeremy: Why? Did she just say something to me?

How familiar is this interaction? You ask your teen to do something, they nonchalantly nod their head or  say "yeh, Ok, I got it." You, naively thinking you have been heard, leave the premises expecting your request to be attended to. Ah if it were just so simple. As seen above, your teen has heard words, but only really as background sounds to whatever it is that has their primary attention, like TV, Video Games, facebook or texting.  They have perfected the art of non-listening while seeming to listen. What is important to you, is absolutely positively important to you,  but is absolutely positively NOT important to them. The only way it becomes important to them is when something they need you to do for them becomes contingent upon them doing what is important to you. Did you get that?

It is really this simple. Using the example above. Mom asks Jeremy to clean up his mess. Jeremy chooses not to hear the request and therefore does not clean up the mess. Maybe mom cleans up the mess cause she can't stand looking at it anymore, or maybe she doesn't and leaves Jeremy sitting in his own sloth.  But in either case, the problem is resolved the same way. For example, Jeremy comes to mom later that day, or evening, or maybe the next day asking for a ride, help in finding something, help with homework, needs to go to staples for a school report, you know whatever it is your teen needs IMMEDIATELY if not sooner. At this point, you or Jeremy's mom in this case, can say: " You know honey, I usually love doing things for you, but when I asked you yesterday to clean up your mess and you chose not to, I guess I choose not to help you out today. Sorry.

And it really is as simple as that. And when your teen gets angry at you for being the worse parent ever, remember yesterday's lesson:
Say no
Stay low
Let it Go!

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