Avoiding toxic words and wrong motivations helps maintain a solid
relationship while effectively confronting your daughter’s mistakes.
Every teen girl wants to know they will continue to be loved when they’ve made mistakes. Loving someone seems easy when everything is going well. However, it’s pretty different when your daughter breaks your rules, and her life spins out of control. In those times, the best way to demonstrate your continual love for them is to take care of how you confront their misbehavior, avoiding toxic words and wrong motivations.
Let your daughter know why you are confronting their wrongful behavior. You love them and want to teach them how to avoid more significant problems later in life—assuring your daughter that you will be there for them in times of difficulty and struggle—not turning away from them with anger. Let your daughter know that you still love them and you’ll never love them any less, even when they make a mistake.
Focus on fixing her behavior, not her as a person. Remember, anyone’s behavior can change, but people rarely do.
Avoid the use of the word “you.” Instead of “You broke curfew,” say, “Curfew was broken.” When you use the term “you,” it feels like you are attacking your daughter.
Statements like “You never listen to me” or “You always come home late” attacks her character, not her behavior. Attacking your daughter’s nature will make them defensive about themselves and their actions. Your daughter might identify with the behavior and start thinking, “I’m just the black sheep of the family.” Encourage her to do better. Show her that she can be a better person than her wrongful behavior.
Only Say Things That Help The Situation
Getting what you want from a discussion with your daughter has nothing to do with how right you are and how wrong she is. It has everything to do with your motivation and approach. Ask yourself, “Will my approach move this discussion to a positive resolution or away from it?” “Could my words increase or decrease our mutual respect for one another?” And finally, “Will my words encourage my daughter to improve, or encourage her to just hide her behavior from me in the future?”
Be sure to leave your attitude and hurt feelings at the door before approaching your daughter about an issue that needs to be addressed. Focus on what you are trying to accomplish, not how you feel about the situation. Inappropriate motivations can all too easily sneak into your conversation, which will interfere with bringing about positive results.
Avoid Inappropriate Motivations and Goals:
- Don’t unload your frustration. Don’t dump on your teen – they’ll resent it. They probably already have enough frustrations of their own.
- Don’t prove yourself right and your teen wrong. It is not a matter of who is right and wrong; it is a matter of dealing with the issue at hand and solving the problem.
- Don’t crush them into submission. This negatively responds to a poor choice and sets a terrible example. It usually doesn’t work long-term and will give your teen the desire to take revenge, another inappropriate response. Never threaten or demean a teenager into changing their behavior. They might appear to make the change when they are around you, but they’ll do the opposite behind your back.
- Don’t try to change them into something or someone else. Teens don’t vary based on what their parents tell them. Instead, they change when they want to and respond to the consequences or pain they experience from making a wrong decision. And most kids are already uncomfortable in their skin, so telling them that they need to change to be accepted by you only makes them more confused and irritated.
- Don’t threaten them. Anything more than stating that a consequence will be applied should they step over the line is bullying them. Empty threats are even worse. Your teen will come to know you don’t mean what you say when you don’t enforce threatened consequences.
Appropriate motivations and goals to focus on as you have that talk:
- DO be clear and concise, and make sure your teen understands your concern for them.
- DO better understand your teen or communicate you’d like to understand them better.
- DO give them rest from a wearying situation — yes, their transgressions can be emotionally burdensome.
- DO more clearly communicate your household beliefs, rules, and consequences.
- DO solve the one problem (not every problem) to prevent it from happening again.
You’ll notice that “To solve the problem” is last on that list, not first. That’s because you’ll only solve the problem if you work on the relationship instead. And you’ll only solve some issues at a time. Problem-solving demands a good relationship and trust by your teen that you have their best interests at heart.
Be careful not to interpret this as saying that a parent should act subservient or apologetic to a teen when they are confronting inappropriate behavior. Say what you mean when you speak, and mean what you say, but choose words that won’t cause your teen to have to defend who they are as a person, and make sure your motivations are right.
Tone Can Be Important
It is also recommended that you add some fun to the discussion. It reduces the tension and allows you to focus on the issue without sounding angry or upset. And sometimes, it can be a short, drawn-out discussion. For instance, when trying to confront kids with a big smile, saying something like, “Wow! You blew it! What happened?” Approaching it this way tends to make the teen respond, “Yeah, I guess I did.” Getting them to agree and take ownership of their mistake is a healthy first step. And ask them, “what happened?” allows them to respond and explain themselves without inferring that it was all their fault.
After they complete the assigned consequence, have another chat. Reassure them that the error is now forgotten and that it is water under the bridge, thereby restoring open communications. Again, express confidence that they have it within them to avoid making that mistake again. You could even offer some advice from your own life mistakes to help them avoid making the same mistake again.
The way that you manage confrontation is more important than you may think. How you relate to and interact with your daughter will determine your relationship with them in the future. In addition, how you stand with them even in their times of misbehavior will decide if your children will mature into caring, loving, and responsible adults.
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