If you need to have a tricky conversation, firstly, Plan ahead – so the conversation doesn’t turn into an argument. Work out when you’ll talk to them, when you’re both calm –and how you’re going to stay respectful and calm when you talk.
Think about what the best outcome to the conversation would be, and then think about how you’ll approach the conversation to get what you want.
Work out how you can describe the problem in a neutral way, without blaming them.
‘I notice that you didn’t enjoy going to see Granny this weekend. I was surprised by some of the things you said.’
Or ‘I feel annoyed when I walk into the kitchen and everything you’ve used to make your lunch is still out.’
Then wait until a good moment, and go into their bedroom, sit down and say, there’s something that’s been bothering me, would now be a good time to chat about it? If they say no – ask when.If they say yes, then…

Secondly, when you have the conversation -explain the problem, ask for their side, then explain your side. So explain why you want to talk to them–in a neutral way –so you don’t get their back up.
Then ask them how they feel about it.
While your teenager is talking don’t interrupt – just listen, and at the end try to summarise what they’ve said and check you’ve understood.
‘So you felt resentful that we went to see granny, instead of seeing your friends, and you thought she was a bit critical about you?’
When your teenager feels understood, they’ll be much more able to listen when you say:
‘Is it ok if I explain my side now?’ Then tell them how you feel
‘Granny’s really lonely, and she’s old, she’s my mum, and I love her – and I felt really sad when you said ‘I wish I hadn’t bothered coming.’ So you explain your side.

Finally, try to find a solution you’re both happy with. Think of lots of different ways to sort it out.
Really the longest time should be spent on this bit – finding a way to solve the problem – where you try to find ways where you both get what you want. You can still be quite firm here–If they’re promising to do something, ask how they’ll remember without being reminded. And what they’ll do to make up if they don’t do it.

So when there’s an important problem you need to talk to your teenager about, three tips are:

  1. Plan ahead.
  2. When you have the conversation explain the problem, ask for their side, then explain your side.
  3. And try to find a solution that you’re both happy with.

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If you need more than three tips on this – or you’d like to discover the secrets you need to have happy well-behaved, children – please contact me by clicking here. You can arrange a free 20-minute (no obligation) chat to find out if working with me personally (by phone, Skype or face-to-face) would help you and your family. Contact Elizabeth

child behavioural expert
The author:

Elizabeth O’Shea is a parenting specialist child behaviour expert and one of the leading parenting experts in the UK.

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