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When is the "Right" Time to Talk with Your Tween/Teen?

"Timing is everything!" I am sure you have heard that before. However, this concept is imperative when talking to your tween/teen. An ineffective time to talk is during or right after an incident like:

  • a broken curfew

  • books or backpack slung across the room

  • hateful words like, "I can't wait until I am old enough to get out of this house!"

  • rants over teachers, friends or romantic interests

  • on the way home from a stressful situation like a bad score on a test, a lost game or a fight with a friend

  • a door slamming, disrespectful tirade

  • when you just found out you were lied to

Don't talk and especially don't force your tween/teen to talk (unless you have the superpower of a master at communication!). If you do, the SNARK (definition - an imaginary animal used to refer to someone or something that is difficult to track down!) will rear it's vicious head! This is where many parents and tween/teens decide, "I just can't talk to my son or daughter!" And many tween/teen decide, "I just can't talk to my parents!" and the rift begins.

I know, you want to contain the damage, or you want to correct your tween/teen. Now is not the time. Your tween/teen is in their limbic part of their brain and nothing can be accomplished. They can't:

  • accurately take in information.

  • self-reflect.

  • be insightful about the situation.

  • see the big picture.

  • engage in conflict resolution

  • have empathy for you.

When your tween/teen is emotionally flooded there are usually only two things you can do. Give them time and space. Many parents have difficulty letting their tween/teen walk away from the conversation because they think it is disrespectful. Yet this often the best thing for them to do. They really don't want say mean or hurtful things to you.

The most useful thing to do is to discover when is the best time to talk to your tween/teen. (Discover is such a great word when dealing with your tween/teen because we often think we know best or "This has got to be handled NOW!") My son and I had the best conversations late at night in his room on his bed with the lights out. It may not be your best time but it the best time if you want to create meaningful connections. Cherish those times while you have them. When you take time to do this, you will find that loving, precious little boy or girl of yours is still there afterall!

Parenting Practice:

This week, discover when IS the best time to talk with your tween/teen.


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Kathryn Kvols

Author, Lecturer, Parenting Coach

(352) 494-1581

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