coaching, goal-setting, homework, Working with teens

Your teen and you: No 2 – Creating a win-win study agreement.

Create a study agreement that both you and your teen are happy with.

Following on from the last post……I have some further ideas to increase your chances of success when you negotiate with your teen, about anything really, but in this case the amount of study they are doing. I talk again about the importance of listening openly and without judgement to your teen, and give more helpful tips on how to listen openly.  Then I explain why you should decide  exactly what study (how much, and which subjects) you want from the negotiation before it begins, and how helpful suspending any privileges/rewards/positive consequences attached to study will be while negotiating with your teen.

Stay respectful all the time: Keep listening until you and your teen know that you deeply understand their position. You don’t have to agree with the opinions your teen has about study. Just listen closely to them first before you  give your opinion, so that you understand as fully as possible what they are feeling and thinking.   A certain amount of humility, a big dollop of patience, total concentration, and keeping silent until they are finished, are your best tools. Perhaps if you understand their point of view without judgement, then your teen won’t experience the lack of power and control that you may have experienced at their age, and together you will find solutions about their study that work for both of you.

For any negotiation about study to succeed with your teen – think before you leap, and plan ahead.

Before negotiations: Carefully decide what your ‘bottom lines’ are.Your ‘bottom lines’ are the non-negotiable goals you consider necessary for their success, and also any actions your teen needs to take to reach those goals. Be clear about exactly what you want to achieve and what you expect from them, and hold firmly to those ‘bottom lines’ as you negotiate. Then negotiations will seldom get ‘derailed’ for long. ‘Derailing’ is when you are suddenly and unexpectedly diverted onto another topic, and so away from a topic that they don’t want discussed.

Before negotiations: Think about what happens when your teen is not cooperative and attempts to derail you. Many young adults develop excellent skills at ‘derailing’ those around them. Think back to the last time your young adult stopped you from discussing something with them. What happened in that conversation? Perhaps you were suddenly blamed for something you had done or not done at some earlier time; or your young adult suddenly felt ill or very tired; or they had no time to talk right then; or they became very upset about something that had recently happened to them. I’m sure you can think of more ways your young adult ‘derails’ you when they don’t want to listen.

You will know when you are being ‘derailed’ because you will experience a sudden strong and unexpected negative emotion towards them, such as pity, or annoyance, or worry, or anger. As you notice your teen derailing the negotiation process, take a moment to choose how you will respond. If you choose to be diverted from your topic of discussion, you can easily proceed with negotiations at some later time because you have decided your ‘bottom lines’.

Before negotiations: Write down exactly what you want. Write down what is not negotiable (your bottom line) and what is negotiable (where your young adult has ‘wriggle room’ to negotiate something more favourable for themselves). Then if you find yourself ‘derailed’, you can easily come back to exactly where you left off the negotiation at the next appropriate moment you and your young adult can find.

Before negotiations: Decide the positive consequences related to study.  Study is your teen’s work. A definition of ‘consequence’ is ‘something that follows as a result’.  Anything you provide for your teen not related to your teen’s basic needs could be deemed a privilege.

During Negotiations: Suspend positive consequences until you reach a study agreement that you and your teen are both happy with.I suggest that you suspend privileges that are become positive consequences related to study until  you both have created a win-win agreement. Your teen will usually want to continue negotiations with you as soon as possible to gain access to those positive consequences. Remember that negotiations with them can take as long as needed. There is no hurry. In fact not hurrying negotiations, and suspending any promised positive consequences until agreements are signed and sealed means that your teen will be the one in a hurry to get things sorted.

My next post helps you pay attention to the small print so that your teen and you always know what exactly is expected of them.

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