This article by Lisa Damour, Why Your Grumpy Teen Doesn’t Want to Talk to You, reminds us of some important guidelines for conversations with our kids.
*Good kids do dumb things
*We never have the whole story
*Be sure you can respond with patience and compassion: kids won’t talk if they think we’ll say “I told you so”.
*Kids fear negative consequences, so take your time and remind kids that the sooner it’s addressed the smaller consequences are likely to be.
*Be clear with your kids about about which safety issues must be shared with other adults (other parents, counselors, school administrators) and which kinds of issues can remain confidential.
*Tender support of our kids does not always include discussing the problem. We can model self care and remind our kids which activities tend to help shift their mood. These may range from expressive (art or movement), calming (a warm bath, cup of tea or gengle music), connecting with something bigger than ourselves (a walk outdoors, contact with an elder, prayer or meditation), to playful (time with a pet, a younger sibling, throwing a ball around or playing a game of cards)…and much more.
Also check out When Your Child’s Friend Is in Crisis, for advice on how to respond when you learn of a crisis, remembering to credit your child for the strength of their relationships and the support they’ve offered to date, and suggestions for how to move forward together.