Back-to-school season is here! As the kids head back to class, many parents are struggling with having conversations about feelings of anxiety and uncertainty that have become more common than ever, especially among minors. In this Meetup Live event, we’ll be discussing strategies for having meaningful conversations about tough subjects.
Watch Michelle Icard, author of Fourteen Talks By Age Fourteen, on Meetup Live for a breakdown of the essential conversations to have with your tweens and teens to prepare them for any challenges they might face this year. Learn Michelle’s formula for having hard-hitting conversations with your kids, from knowing when to broach a sensitive subject to cultivating a relationship of openness and honesty.
- Each letter of the B.R.I.E.F Model stands for a different step in approaching conversations. It spells out the word brief because I want these conversations to be quick. Your child is much more likely to talk to you about big, heavy, serious topics if they know they can get in and get out. There are 5 quick steps that I want you to take that really reframe the way that you communicate with your child.
- B- stands for begin peacefully. A lot of times, we think our children are only going to pay attention for a short time before their eyes start to glaze over, or they pick up their phone. So parents tend to jump into the deep end thinking that’s the only time they have. That’s not beginning peacefully. What I’d rather see you do is take a deep breath and start with a gentle conversation, not even tied to the main objective then get into it.
- R- is to relate to your child. They might be a little suspicious as to why you have so many questions. Relate to your child so they don’t think they’re in trouble or that you’re worried about them.
- I- interview for data. I want you to think of it more as your gathering data on what your kid knows about this topic on a global level, not on a personal level, not what their friends are doing. If we’re using vape for example, ask them”What do you know about this, What do you know about what it does to your body”?
- E- is echo what you hear. Echoing what they say is really important, because you want to show that you’re listening. It’s also important because there’s a lot of misunderstanding generationally between the way kids say things and the way adults say things, so you’re double checking that you understand.
- F- is feedback. So you have really earned your way into your child’s trust in communicating this way, and this is where you say “it’s so great to hear what you’ve learned, what you know about this, and what you think about this”. “I’d love to give you a few guidelines and suggestions that I think are going to be really useful to you here”. Then give them one or two suggestions and change the subject.
- Every kid has a different way of communicating. The book, 5 Love Languages, and 5 Love Languages of Your Kids, I highly recommend. Some of your kids are naturally great communicators, and other kids aren’t, I happen to have had one of each. So I’m experienced in different styles and most of you, if you have more than one kid, have different communicators in your family. You’re going to go through trial and error, and you have to be really flexible. If your kid isn’t a big talker, try texting. Try sending a text, saying “I’d love to hear about the best and worst thing at school today, take your time. Send me a text if you think of anything”. That is a really good way to start. Some families do journals, some families communicate through doodles and drawings, or through another person can be really helpful. You have to play around with it.
Top Q&A Questions & Resources:
- How do you communicate with your child when they want to be addressed with a different pronoun than you’re used to?
- It’s a hard change when you’ve had a certain pronoun for them for over 10 years, especially since it’s not something you are familiar with or have grown up with. I think this is a thoughtful question, I hear this from a lot of parents who recognize the importance of this to your child’s mental and physical health. Your children will recognize that with an open heart you are trying but habits are habits and so it’s really easy to slip and use a former pronoun. I’m sorry that the child is seeing that as disrespect. I think you might have to be wholeheartedly saying to them, “I am really trying, I want this for you, and I want this for me and I’m gonna keep trying, but please don’t give up on me”. Make sure that you are really giving it your best effort, and when you do slip up, say “I’m sorry I did it again, I’m gonna keep trying.”
- I struggle connecting with my 13-year-old daughter, I feel she thinks that I’m just a dumb dad. I’m not looking to be her friend necessarily but I want to connect with her and have a great father-daughter relationship, any tips?
- The dumb dad thing is a common trope in sitcoms and commercials. I think kids live a little bit through what they consume in the media. So rather than talking to her about her reaction to you, it might be interesting if you were watching a show, and you brought it up that way because it’s less of a personal attack on how she’s treating you and more of a curiosity. My other piece of advice is to engage with her on what she’s into. If one of her things is watching Youtube videos or Tiktoks about makeup or whatever, I would get into that with her. I then would ask her to watch something I’m interested in and explain to her what I like about it. It’s just about tightening your relationship.
- Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen
- Private Facebook Parenting Group: Less Stressed Middle School Parents
- Online Course for Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen (for parents and kids to experience together)
- Michelle’s free newsletter
Last modified on September 6, 2022