Being a Safe Source for Conversation

Setting a precedent for how you respond to a teen's shortcomings and questions is an important indicator of how a teen can expect you to respond to future shortcomings and questions. Your teen will be more apt to see you as a safe source when you show that you care to listen and attempt to understand their world. How do you respond when your child makes a mistake and you desire to create a safe space for conversation in your home?

Take Your Time:
Give yourself time to think about how you want to respond to your teen's shortcoming. Delay the punishment. This has a two-fold advantage for you. Not only will this give you time to stop and think of a good response, but the delay in punishment acts as a punishment in itself. Your teen will have a hard time waiting. For example, respond by saying, "I'm sorry to hear you did not put your phone on the counter last night before bed. Please put it on the kitchen counter before you go do your homework and we will talk about it later."

Sit down and ask your child to tell you their side of the story. Show your child that you are willing to hear them out, that you want to listen and understand. You may gain information that will change how you respond to the situation. More importantly, you are giving your child the opportunity to feel heard and understood.

Keep Boundaries Consistent:
Boundaries offer security. Stand firm in the boundaries that you have put in place for your child. Do not feel like setting boundaries and rules will cause your child to not talk to you about controversial or embarrassing topics. Having expectations to live by offers security and autonomy because they know what is expected of them to be successful.

Utilizing these three tips when responding to your child's mistakes will help to create a safe space for future conversations.