At the very top of must have habits of highly effective teenagers,
is assertive communication.
Assertive communication is so crucial a skill, that every teenager must be empowered to have it otherwise they will struggle to navigate teenage-hood. Remember during teenage years, the teenager’s brain is undergoing massive massive changes and they develop that need to belong. It is that need to belong that makes them very very susceptible to peer pressure.
The reason a teenager would struggle if they did not have assertive communication is because they would be easily lured and taken advantage of, even bullied. This is what makes assertive communication a very very important social and communication skill - it enables someone to communicate their stance and their stand clearly and in healthy ways whilst respecting the rights the thoughts and the wishes of others.
So, how CAN YOU as a parent of teenager and adolescent teach your teenager assertive communication?
Firstly, you, as a parent of teenager will require to have assertive communication skill.
Secondly, you will need to model and mentor your teenager.
Raising Remarkable Teenagers requires that parents of teenagers, model and mentor assertive communication.
You cannot maltreat your or punish
your teenager to good shape.
As psychologists, now more than ever we are convinced that you cannot mal-treat your teenager to good habits, neither can you just sit back and hope that they develop good and acceptable behaviour and habits of highly successful teenagers. What we know works for sure,modelling, mentoring and developing firm and fair boundaries and consequences is what inspires and instills positive behaviour.
You and I know that there are various ways of communicating and as mentioned before assertive communication is when you communicate clearly and calmly while respecting the rights thoughts and wishes of others.
The adage “say what you mean and mean what you say” has never held as much weight as it does when we are talking about assertiveness. Assertive communication is when you communicate your needs in a clear, calm and composed manner and you mean exactly what you say.
On another hand you can be passive and refuse to state your stance and do nothing. This sends the message to the teenagers that they can trample all over you. This results in teenage tantrums and disrespect the very thing that you hope to gain from them. It leaves you frustrated, stressed and trapped.
Being passive may seem the easiest for a parent who is desperate for love, but in evading the issue you rob the teenager the ability to develop that mental strength, the strength that come with the negotiations that happen during assertive communication.
Aggressive communication is the polar opposite of passive communication.
This is when parents become overbearing in the way they parent teenagers. They communicate by lashing commands and orders. This usually is a sign that this parent of teenager has lost control of the situation and of self and absolutely have no faith in their ability to influence. Therefore, their only remaining option is using force and control. Unfortunately, this can lead to teenagers and young people rebelling and retaliating; which is not a pretty sight.
Other parents choose the passive-aggressive communication - which is a sly way of controlling. While they are not overly aggressive, they induce blame, guilt and shame and even pity just to make things happen. While they might get some result from this, it is never from a position of understanding and respect.
I believe that you can now see why assertive communication is not only an important skill, but a completely completely powerful skill. Assertive communication requires that you have an absolute clarity and confidence in your;
What, When, Why, and What again.
You need to know your;
Your clarity and confidence eliminate stress and anxiety and communicates to your teenager exactly where you stand, and that you are fair and firm. Many times our teenagers may not see us as fair parents. This is why it is important to know your What, When, Why, and What because this communicates to them at a deeper level that you're not just being random, but you have a rationale for what you are requesting. A rationale that can be evaluated for its fairness and its considerate nature.
When you are assertive you are clear about your goal and your expectation, you inspire and promote equality, and as you do this you are modelling to your teenager how to be assertive. We influence others by the quality and the confidence of our convictions.
Assertive communication demonstrates to your teenager that they are important and they matter. Another thing is, you are showing them that you are important too.
Because in assertive communication you make direct requests, express your thoughts and feelings clearly and do not violate their rights, your assertive communication is most likely to inspire action and change of behaviour in your teenager.
When you are assertive, your self-confidence and self determination can be relied on and you are more likely to be respected, much more so than when you are being aggressive or passive.
As you know, all our programs, are based on modelling and mentoring. In this case you want to model assertiveness communication. Raising Remarkable Teenagers requires that we are assertive communication.
So if you are going to teach your teenager to be assertive, it is imperative that you acquire this skill yourself, so that you are able to model it to your teenager. As you know and as I've always said, it is very hard to give that which you haven't got.
Modelling and mentoring it's about demonstrating that which you are. To model and mentor assertive communication requires that you are conversant and confident in assertive communication yourself.
I am sure by now you are asking yourself,
How do I develop this assertiveness communication skill and how can I model that to my teenager.
Firstly, I'll show you a process that you can follow to develop assertive communication skill.
Secondly, I will show you how to model and mentor your teenager to developing assertive communication.
7 steps to developing assertive communication
Let's take for example a 15 year old who is rude and obnoxious, You have told them severally to stop being rude and obnoxious to no avail. It all seems to fall on deaf ears.
Here is how you can use these seven steps to develop assertive communication when parenting this rude and obnoxious 15 year old.
Firstly, I am going on the premise that you have had enough and have decided it’s time to stop responding in the same old way when it comes to your teenager's tantrums and rude behaviour.
Secondly that you truly understand and acknowledge that the teenager’s brain is changing in drastic ways. So massive are these changes that even the teenagers themselves don't understand what's happening.
But these brain changes should not be an excuse for rude behaviour or bad behaviour or for us not to do anything.
1. First of all is to let your teenager understand that you will not be spoken to in this manner - this is your step of valuing yourself.
2. Remind them that you do not speak to them like that - this is your way of showing that you are promoting equality.
3. I would like more positive behaviour - you are directly requesting for what you want.
4. Stating that that behaviour is not acceptable - you are keeping focused on the particular issue.
5. I am available when you're ready to speak kindly - remaining open to negotiations and leaving the doors open for them.
6. This is what a lack of kindness will cost you… you show them consequences of their behaviour
7. Move away and go and praise your progress- praise your progress and practice for next time.
Assertive communication has a time and place
It is very important when parenting teenagers, and this goes for parents and educators, that we choose when and where to be assertive. The overall aim of assertive communication is to create healthier relationships. Some things and some situations can be ignored and we do not have to be assertive all the time.
Remember we said earlier that assertiveness involves being respectful of the rights and wishes of other people – in this case the rights of the teenagers. So, flexibility is very important, because it's about valuing everyone that's involved in the situation and the conversation.
Assertive communication when parenting teenagers does not mean being pushy all day long. Assertive communication is like having a lawn mower; you take it out of the shed when you need it, and do not need to walk around with it running all day long.
As you learn to be more assertive your brain develops new neural paths and as with any learning you reach a point of competence confidence where you demonstrate and act assertively with ease. It's at this point that now you are able to model and mentor your teenager or young person with ease.
In conclusion, the main points on developing assertive communication when parenting teenagers are:
Understand that during teenage years the teenagers’ brain is developing drastically .
Teenagers have a deep need to belong which makes them very vulnerable and susceptible to peer pressure.
This is why at this stage they need to learn assertive communication because it is very very important.
As parents and educators, we can model and mentor our teenagers and young people to develop assertive communication.
7 steps to assertive communication involves:
1. Realising that you are valuable
2. Understanding assertiveness communication promotes equality
3. Being direct with your request
4. Keeping focused on the issue
5. Remaining open to negotiations
6. Communicating consequences
7. Preparing ,practicing, and praising progress.
Once you have developed this assertive communication, you will be a strong and effective for your teenager because we can only give that which we have.
You can contact us to learn more about our assertiveness programs for parenting teenagers and how to be an effective influence on your teenager in order to and facilitate change in behaviour.
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