In our podcasts # 59, 60, 61 & 62, Don and I have presented 4 different parent-child scenarios and each week we discuss one using the principles from How To Talk So Kids Will Listen, And Listen So Kids Will Talk.

We utilize similar scenarios along with participants personal challenges in the workshops we hold based on this time-honored book by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.

#4: Home Past Curfew and Problem Solving

Your teenager comes home past their curfew again, arriving home past 11 pm on a school night.

Mom: You’re late again. This is the third time in two weeks.

Teen:  Yea, I know. Sorry

Mom:  Sorry??

Teen: I just forgot what time it was. We were having fun and I forgot!

Mom: You forgot?!?! Are you kidding me? That is no excuse.

Teen: It won’t happen again. I promise. Next time I will remember.

When you were a teen did you have a curfew? 

What did your parents do if you got home late? 

We worry about our kids when they are out with friends and don’t respond to our texts.  

We often speak to our children quickly and without much thought, we react.

It may even be the way our parents spoke to us. 

Moving from reacting to responding requires patience and effort.  We believe that how we speak to our child has an effect on behavior, anxiety, and the energy of the household. 

How would you react/ respond to the above scenario?

“Where were you, I told you to be home by 9 and if something happened to call me.  Why didn’t you call me?  

You have school tomorrow.  I can’t let you go out on a school night again.  You are always late and you never call me.”

Do any of these responses sound familiar? 

How did the rest  of the conversation go? 

Did your response help resolve the issue or make it worse? 

What we  have found working with parents and from our own personal experience is these  typical responses lead to the child: 

  • getting angry and storming upstairs, slamming the door,
  • becoming resentful of you and they begin sneaking out of the house
  • becoming upset and trying to explain but you don’t let them explain or tell them it is just an excuse
  • becoming withdrawn and won’t share with you when something is wrong.
  • Feeling guilty
  • tuning you out as you lecture
  • Resenting you and taking on labels of failure, irresponsible and stupid

Here are some validating responses that can change the outcome of the conversation, curve unwanted behavior and lower anxiety for all.

State your feelings:

“When you aren’t home ontime, I worry that  something has happened to you. “

State your expectations:

“I expect you to call me if you are going to be late.”

Problem solve: 

Brainstorm ideas, and work together to come to a solution.  

“It looks like we are both frustrated.  Let’s set a time when we can come up with some ideas of how we could handle this differently…” 

  • Pick a time to discuss that works for both of you, when everyone is rested and fed
  • Explain that first you will write down all ideas, without judgement
  • Avoid commenting on their ideas, remind them this is a time to generate ideas
  • Once you have all ideas written, review them one at a time
  • Allow your child to reject an idea
  • Use I statements during this process
  • Remember to acknowledge and respect their feelings
  • Define your concerns by using phrases like, the problem with that is
  • Allow for new ideas to be generated in the process
  • Determine which ideas you will use
  • Make a plan to follow through with the decision

If you are concerned about follow through, you can state expectations about what the plan will be if they do not follow through on the agreed action.

It can be helpful to review the plan right before they go out with friends again or will be in a similar situation.

Our relationship with our children will have a bigger impact on their future then enforcing rules.

Yet, we can do both using respectful language and by working together and problem solving as a team rather than from a position of authority over the child.

The goal is to establish a good relationship so that our kids will come to us when they are in a difficult situation and need our help. And also, to facilitate their ability to problem solve for themselves. Problem solving is a skill we need throughout our lives. The ability to problem solve a situation is a key part of functioning as an independent adult. Yet, it is learned process that is most effective when it is first modeled in the home.

Do you want to improve your relationship with your children?

Do you want your children to listen to you? 

In our workshop we explore these ideas, share more in-depth tools and help you apply them to your own situation. Click here to learn more about upcoming workshops. If you have a small group of parents that would like to hold a workshop, contact us and we would be happy to set that up.



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