By the time your adolescent enters middle school, they will begin to question the world around them and especially you. While we want them to grow in their desire to question people and situations, they also need help understanding healthy boundaries between them and authority figures.
Most parents have experienced “rolling eyes” from their adolescent when they didn’t agree with what you were saying to them. Is that okay? Is it just part of growing up?
The answer is “no.”
Rolling their eyes is a statement of disrespect in a communication with someone, especially someone in authority. This is just one of the ways an adolescent can be disrespectful in a conversation with you. It is okay to tell them that you think this is rude and makes it difficult to hear the real concern or opinion they have.
Establishing boundaries in your communication with your child is a healthy thing to do. You are one of the main authorities in their life and they can practice communicating in a mature way by learning how to communicate effectively with you. This goes both ways, though. There will also be times when you need to apologize for an abrupt response to them that is also disrespectful. This also helps them learn that accountability is important, no matter who they are or their age.
Think of yourself as a mentor for your child, guiding them through important communication episodes. When challenged by their teacher or a coach, someone in authority, focus on how the communication went and not as much on the situation itself. This is a delicate path to walk because you don’t want them to feel like you are interrogating them. Just a few questions like, “Did you think the teacher understood what you were trying to say?” or “How could you have said it differently so she got it?”
It’s a big task to help your child learn to communicate effectively and in a way that the other person wants to hear what they are saying. Begin with small discussions about body language and voice tone. I bet they would find the body language information very interesting.
Communication skills are a vital part of being a successful adult.
In today’s technological age, interpersonal skills seem to be discussed less but are still just as important. While your child is still in your home, raise the bar on your expectation of their respectful response to you so you can help them learn how to effectively communicate with people in authority.
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