Parents: How To Use Your Authority To Achieve Your Goals… Working Smarter, Not Harder…

Posted: July 28, 2012 in For Parents and Guardians
Tags: , , , ,

Whatever it is your teenager has done. However they feel and however you feel. You can assert your authority in a way that gets them to where you want them to be… either grounded and in their room… or feeling sufficiently ashamed of what they did so they don’t do it again… or trusting more solidly that you do what you do because you care about them learning invaluable life lessons.

Below are the steps to follow. Obviously in the heat of moments, it will be extremely challenging to stay aware of your own state, and that of your teenager… but each time you’re able to stay aware and purposeful while managing your emotions instead of being driven by them… you increase your credibility with your kid, and consequently, you increase your influence (and peace of mind).

1. Before you speak, react or decide anything, know your intention. What’s your goal?

  • To educate?
  • To promote reflection?
  • To administer consequences?
  • To vent? (though be mindful of this one… it usually doesn’t end well with teenagers)
  • To show your power and authority? (also be mindful of this one… it usually works in direct opposition of your end goal).

2. Read the mood/emotion of the teenager. Have a sense of their level of receptivity or resistance. Aggressive? Defiant? Ashamed? Sad?

  • Eye contact
  • Posture
  • Clenched hands
  • Head up or down?

3. Choose your approach. Based on your sense of their emotional state, choose an approach that you think will bring them to a place of receptivity. If they seem withdrawn or detached, you might choose an approach to stir or provoke attention and presence (higher energy). If they seem too agitated to hear you, you might choose an approach that slows things down to get them receptive (lower energy). Choosing an approach based on their state is not giving in, it’s being clever and thoughtful.

  • Volume
  • Tone
  • Pace of speech
  • Body position

4. Once you start interacting with your child, pay attention to their responses/reactions (tears, breathing, eyes etc.) to your initial approach. Do not continue to pursue your goal until you feel their receptivity.

  • Did you stir too much aggression or agitation and lose connection?
  • Did you overdo things and provoke shut down and lose connection?
  • Did you stir too much shame and guilt and lose them into their own thoughts?
  • Did you make them feel unsafe, emotionally or physically and cause them to shut down?
  • Do you need to slow down to build more trust?

5. After you have your sense of their reaction to you, readjust and choose another approach… and continue to alternate between choosing your approach, reading their reactions and readjusting based on their reactions.

6. And once you feel they’ve heard your message and understand whatever decision it is you’ve made, check with them to be sure. Any emotionally charged interaction can easily confuse the message, and the goal is always to leave the teenager clear about the lesson you need them to learn, and your role and intention.

7. Know without a doubt that similar emotionally charged interactions will happen again… but because of your improved authoritative skills, your credibility with your teenager rises and consequently, the next storm will be that much more mutually and productive.


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