What do teenagers want their parents to know?
Living in a household with teenagers often feels like walking on eggshells - there can be a crack at any moment. Parents with pubescent children know them, the constant arguments about leaving longer, about homework and generally: life.
Arguments are part of it, but how do families find a good culture of argument?
Education expert Ulric Ritzer-Sachs from the Federal Conference for Education Advice (BKE) gives tips on how parents and children can get through an argument safely.
Should parents get into or avoid arguments with their children?
Ulric Ritzer-Sachs: Arguments are important. Even if they are a little rougher at times. Even a young person has the right to know that mum and dad are really annoyed now. Of course, violent arguments shouldn't be the order of the day.
Is arguing good sometimes too?
Ritzer-Sachs: Yes, if the dispute also has an end, there is an outlook for change or a result. However, if things stay open, or if the adolescent's arguments never count and the parents pull out the club instead, then that's not good.
No power club: How do parents manage to have a conversation at eye level?
Ritzer-Sachs:The foundation stone for this is laid much earlier as soon as the children can speak. Establishing a good culture of conversation only when the children are 12 or 13 is difficult. A good culture of communication means, for example, that parents meet with their children to talk to them. Almost like a meeting at work. You could say, "We have an appointment this afternoon at 3:00 pm, we'll sit down and talk about the subject."
Then children also have the chance to prepare and are not run over like that. Quarrel often arises because the parents have made a plan and the children are given it. That's nasty. It is understandable that they then sometimes react with anger or anger.
In other words, consciously choosing a quiet time for a discussion?
Ritzer-Sachs:I cannot have a reasonable conversation when the situation has just escalated. In order to be able to talk well to one another, parents must also ensure a good atmosphere for discussion. That can also mean boiling a cocoa and adding cookies.
What should parents pay attention to when talking to their children?
Ritzer-Sachs:It is very important to let the children finish speaking. Even if it is clear to the parents that there is now an argument that they in no way support it. However, you shouldn't make a decision right away, but listen first.
In no case should they be derogatory or ridiculous about things that children and young people find important. If a child tells about his or her wishes, the love for some star, then parents are not allowed to put it down. But they can express that something is not their taste or they are concerned.
The type of language is very important. Parents don't just have to whisper gently, they can find clear words. But one should never say: you are stupid. Rather: Your behavior was stupid.
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If the argument is already in full swing, what mistakes can parents avoid?
Ritzer-Sachs:When I notice that everyone is getting louder and nobody is listening properly anymore, then the adults have to get out. It is up to the parents to say, “Stop, something is going wrong! We end the conversation, calm down and carry on later. ”Children and young people cannot do that.
Sometimes the opposite happens, the child closes and leaves. How do i react?
Ritzer-Sachs:First of all, you should allow that to the child. And ask later if you can continue talking now. Then if there is a no, it is a no.
What if an argument does escalate and parents shout out loud?
Ritzer-Sachs:It is normal for it to happen. But scolding and screaming always means that you can't think of anything and that you do things that you wouldn't actually do when you thought about it. That’s never good. When I find myself screaming, it's really important to come back down. Better to go out of the room. And when I've gotten rid of myself, I should say, I'm sorry for yelling at you.
What if parents even slip their hand?
Ritzer-Sachs:Hands never slip that easily. But that can actually happen at the moment. It's not the same as abuse, either. But it's not okay. Hitting is never an argument no matter what. Children have the right to a non-violent upbringing. A slap in the face always hurts. And is stressful for a relationship. Then you really need an apology.
What could parents say instead when they find they are about to freak out?
Ritzer-Sachs:You could say: "I'm angry, I'm angry, then I can't think well, let's continue in an hour, I have to calm down." But young people should also have this right.
How do you then approach each other a little bit?
Ritzer-Sachs:It must be clear to both parties that such a dispute does not endanger the relationship. Parents should also know that their children's love doesn't stop with an argument.
Parents are allowed to take the 15-year-old in their arms to start a new conversation. Older children also like to be hugged and think it's good that their parents like them. Young people are constantly questioning all types of relationships. It is important for them to know: That was stupid, but mom and dad still like me.
This does not mean that parents should make concessions out of a guilty conscience and let their son go to the disco until twelve. But that they show: Even if I don't allow you to do that, I still like you. By setting boundaries, I don't endanger relationships.
But sometimes parents have to say no clearly - if only out of their responsibility, right?
Ritzer-Sachs:Yes. You must then clearly state: "I am responsible for you and cannot allow it." And make it clear: "I forbid you."
The fact that young people still have borderline experiences is clear and cannot be prevented. Parents should still issue bans. There is already security for children just knowing what they are not allowed to do.
What should you do if the child offends the parents badly in an argument?
Parents should then stop and say, “I don't want you to talk to me like that, we're taking a break now.” And if the conversation continues, they should make it clear that insults don't work.
The brain does crazy things and re-shapes itself during puberty. This is why some things don't quite reach the children, especially not when they are excited. Teens can be very self-righteous, but they are always handing out themselves. They don't always notice that.
What if the child becomes aggressive?
It happens sometimes. Parents should communicate clearly: this must never happen again, I will not be hit. The question is, does a child feel cornered and fight back in desperation? Or has it made the experience that it can prevail if it hits mom in the stomach. The latter is not possible. Then you have to get help in an emergency.
Where would you go for help if something like this happens frequently?
For example at our BKE online counseling or at an on-site educational counseling center. The youth welfare office offers more intensive help. If parents are afraid, they could call the police if necessary. But giving up a youngster would be really bad.
Thank you for the interview.
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