When I was a teen, I did what I did, without bothering to know how my decisions or actions affect people around me. It’s not easy being a teenager. Teenager is neither young nor old enough to do things ~ It’s like one gets trapped in the transition of time and almost everything done or said, is either wrong timing or wrong choice of words! Besides the confusion, add on family expectation, peer pressure, homework, exams, extra curricular activities, boring lessons, irritating siblings, emotional roller coaster….. Big Plus ~ one has to deal with self-consciousness, self-esteem issues, you name it. (Sigh)
Now that I am a mom to a teenager, I think I roughly know what my parents went through when I was a teen. To help deal with this new phase of my life, I share parenting experience with my friends, especially experienced mothers who have teenagers in the house. It helps, big time! Mostly, we can’t see ourselves as clearly as we wanted to. We made blunders here and there, without realising it. I also try to keep myself relevant; I bought books on how to communicate with teenagers, watch their kind of shows and listen to their kind of music, simply to try to understand how and what appeal to them at this age. I do get some teenage motivational books for my son to read, besides his favourite books on Fish (aquarium, marine, etc) and Body Building. Hopefully, the books could provide some guidance and giving him the assurance that what he is going through now, physically and emotionally, they are normal for his age. The books also allow us to have open discussions on topics which he is curious to know more. We all know that there are times when they would prefer to “hear” it from others, not their own parents. I find that book is one of the many reliable sources we can use.
On Communication, I learned from a very practical book which explained why we shouldn’t praise our teenagers using general terms like ” you are so smart” (he’d say, “are you sure? No lah“), ” you are a good boy/girl” (he/she may say, “I’m not that good“), etc. It was suggested that we should describe why we think they are so smart or good. Descriptive praises may work like this – longer but more effective : “I noticed that you have put in extra effort in preparing for your exams. It shows in your results too! How does that make you feel this time around?” He said, “I feel so happy! Teachers also praised me for being more responsive in class. Didn’t know I could make it. Thanks, Mom.” I could see my son’s eyes shone brightly with pride and a big smile plastered on his face.
On my tween daughter, instead of me saying “wow, your drawing is so beautiful!” I’d say, ” Wow honey, you paid so much attention to the details of the background that it looks so cheerful and beautiful. The colours are brilliant, with the right shades too.” She replied “I like it too! Thanks, Mom.” By letting them know why we praise them, they would appreciate our attention and sincerity; and what I noticed is that they are more confident now than before.
Now, shift this praise to us. If your boss praised you for being a good staff – you would be wondering if his praise is a sincere one or he’s just saying it for the sake of making him look good? On what score did he praise you for? For coming to work early every day or for the impressive presentation you made just three days ago? However, if he were to come up to you and say “Thank you for working so hard for this project. You impressed our clients and looks like we are going to seal the deal. Good job!” How does that make you feel now? Yeah right, wish we have this kind of boss, isn’t it? Mind you, there really are some bosses who are like that. I had such experience before and boy, did I work really hard then. You’ll do a lot of good and right stuffs when you are motivated and appreciated.
Now, you get my points? So, if you have been praising your children, especially the teenagers, and getting a neutral or negative response, try this method and see how it goes. Does it make a difference at all? If you have not done this before, you may feel a little awkward when you try to choose your words. Over time, it’ll be easier and the words, eventually come out naturally in a smooth flow. Remember, the right practice makes perfect.
Penning off now. May you have a great week ahead.