I’m often asked if NVR works with teenagers. The short answer is yes. If you’re using it with the desire of building a strong relationship with your child, as opposed to just ‘dealing with the difficult behaviour’ it will work even better. It is not a magic wand though. It takes time, persistence and commitment from the parents, and it’s not easy. Behaviour can get worse before it gets better, something that many parents understandably fear. I understand that having gone through it myself with my son, although he wasn’t a teenager.
So where do we start when we want changes to happen? Our main aim with NVR is to raise our presence as parents. Often when things are hard we back off in an attempt to reduce the difficult behaviour. The problem with this approach is that the more we, as parents, back off, the more our children do as well. This often results in the behaviours we’re worried about escalating, as the child senses our feeling of worry and takes over control to help them feel safe. Consequently, we back off more and the cycle continues. If we can do the opposite and increase our presence it has a positive impact on our relationship. It can be easier said than done though particularly if the behaviour continues, but it does help to change the relationship over time. All behaviour is a form of communication, so looking underneath it to understand what is happening is key and raising our presence helps us to move to a position where we can learn what our child is communicating with greater ease.
Knowing how to raise our presence through can be hard, particularly when the relationship isn’t in a good place. Here are some ideas particularly for older children:
- Send a text message – just say hi.
- Most teenagers have their phones superglued to them and a text message isn’t intrusive. Don’t worry if they don’t respond, it’s not about that, but about you showing them you’re thinking about them.
- Talk in the car
- Lots of parents say it is easier because you’re not looking at each other making it more relaxing and that their children open up more in the car.
- Show interest in what they do
- This may seem obvious, but how many of us dismiss this. Maybe we’re not a fan of football so don’t ask it about, or hate computer games and the amount they play them, so instead of engaging we moan about it (I’m guilty of this one!)
- They are teenagers
- Let them grow and find themselves, most of us did something silly at that age. Raising our presence will help keep the door open so they can talk to you about it.
- Tidy their room occasionally
- Just taking out the dirty plates can make all the difference. I know I feel better when my sons room is tidier, even if I just do a tiny bit.
- Remember your baskets (no idea what this is? Then read all about it here)
- Use humour / playfulness
- Humour is a great way to break the ice and connect. Even teenagers have a sense of humour!
- Let them choose the radio station / tv channel
- OK you might hate it, but it shows a level of interest and they have probably spent time listening to your choice of music
- Take them a drink without it being requested
- Little things like this show you care and are thinking about them.
Not all of these ideas will work with every child but hopefully some will work for you, and they might spark other ideas for you. If at first your efforts are rejected, try not to be disheartened. It can take time for your child to get used to you raising your presence, so keep going. Start small and build it up, it will be easier for everyone and more likely to be accepted.
Raising your presence may not be easy, but it will help change your relationship for the better over time and when used with the other pillars of NVR will be even more effective.