🤩 You’ve had conversations with your teen to clearly communicate your boundaries so they understand your values and beliefs behind them.
🤩 You’ve decided on and communicated reasonable consequences so your teen knows what to expect should their choices lead them outside the boundaries.
You’re killing it!! I secretly nominated you for parent of the year ☺️
Then the inevitable happens (because your teen is about as perfect as you and I 🙄).
It’s frustrating and disappointing, but you’re prepared. Like a boss, you remind your teen of the consequences and start the ball rolling to reinforce the behaviours you DO want.
Then your teen blows through your boundary again. WHAT? Why is the happening?? You start the consequence again, wondering if you’re missing something 🤔.
Why does this keep happening?!
Welcome to the boundary-consequence carousel 🎡. Consequences are important, but they’re only the first step to creating more lasting change. Remember back in school when you learned Newton’s third law?
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Boundaries and consequences are the same; you do this, then I’ll do this. That would be all you needed if your teen was an inanimate object without a quickly developing brain and independent thought. Transactional statements like Newton’s third law weren’t intended for parenting (or any relationship).
Relationships are far more complex.
Behavior change happens at a relational level, not a transactional level, so there’s no quick pill or app for that. The relational work begins after the appropriate consequence and almost always looks like a conversation. Lots of it.
“Begin with the end in mind” – Franklin Covey
How do you want your relationship with your teen to feel? What kinds of things would you say to each other? Anchoring the experience you want to create will help you move forward.
Curiosity is a listening exercise, not an interrogation.
Muster your curiosity and listening skills and find out what your teen believes about the situation and choice in question. This conversation requires a soft start-up like, “I’d like to talk to you about what happened. Help me to understand your thought process.” Remember, just because you birthed your teen doesn’t mean they agree with you.
Listen first, talk last.
Use open-ended questions and release your judgement of right or wrong in the answers. Your teen needs time and space to process and express themselves, even if you don’t agree. That means saving your perspective until the end and being brief. Important conversations like this often happen over multiple sessions to avoid emotional triggers and flooding.
As you and your teen create a greater understanding of the situation and each other, there’s an opportunity to renegotiate both the boundary and the consequence. Letting go of your perspective long enough to see your teens may feel challenging; yet, it’s the only way forward.
I don’t mean rolling over and letting your teen have free reign! I mean finding something that feels workable for both of you, even if it’s uncomfortable. Renegotiating is only complete when you’re both clear on all the details, and if you’re already at your bottom line, stay there.
Whether things go swimmingly next time or your teen charges through the new/same boundary like a bull in a china shop, revisiting what worked and what didn’t is another opportunity to be curious, build understanding, emotional safety, and respect. That’s the only way real and lasting change happens.
What if I could you knew the words to use and how to use them so these tricky conversations felt a little easier? After years of working with parents and teens and seeing the same painful disconnects, I compiled a complete guide covering the nine most common breakdowns with step-by-step instructions, videos and examples to make basic communication simple again. Click below to start lowering your stress!!