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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Middle School Makeover: Part 4

Middle School Makeover Part 4: Talking with Your Middleschooler, or Not

In this chapter we tackle communicating with your child, which to say the least, can be challenging sometimes. “Turns out, adolescents are terrible at reading facial expressions. They often perceive you to be angry when you aren’t. Do yourself a favor and keep a neutral facial expression when talking to your middle schooler” (page 52). Michelle refers to this as “Botox Brow” which will prevent your teen from misinterpreting your furrowed eyebrow as anger or frustration with them. By practicing saying what you are feeling instead of expressing it with your face, you open the lines for clear communication. 

Maybe the most important piece of advice in this section is rather simple, about reacting to unexpected news from your child: “When you don’t know what to say, be quiet” (page 57). Take a deep breath and buy yourself some time before jumping to a reaction that can make your teen less likely to open up to you in the future. 

This is only helpful, however, once your child is communicating with you. If your middleschooler isn’t opening up to you, Michelle offers some helpful tips on page 58. I’ve made a quick reference list here:

            -create a village of friends for them to turn to aside from parents
            -ask them for advice
            -ask to talk later instead of springing conversation on them
            -text, or use their preferred form of communicating, keep it casual
            -offer some incentive
            -include their friends, they may be more likely to open up with them around
            -use bedtime as a talking opportunity

It is important to understand that as your child grows up it is perfectly natural for them to tell you less about their personal life—not a reflection on you or your parenting. Try not to be too hard on yourself about it.

Thoughts for discussion:
Have you had trouble getting your middle schooler to open up to you? What made it difficult? What helped?

What advice could you offer a parent who is struggling to communicate with their teen?

Do you think using “Botox Brow” would work on your child? Or would have encouraged you to speak more openly with your mom when you were a teen?

As always we love hearing from you. See you next week! Happy Reading!

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