How to stay close to your teen

Michael Riera, PhD Author & Educator, shares advice for parents on how the best methods for connecting with your teenage child in order to stay close with them
How to Stay Connected to Your Teenager
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How to stay close to your teen

You know, the shift from manager to consultant is trickier than people realize; the manager thinks in control, the consultant is thinking more about influence. And as a consultant, it’s not laissez-faire parenting, it’s not just waiting on the side – it’s thinking about how you’re going to make use of your influence. It’s actually thinking a bit strategic about how you’re going to interact with your child. So one of the things as you think about children, and you want to talk to your teenager, you want to open up… you want them to open up to you – relatively, however much teenager actually opens up. They’re not going to open up on your time. But a consultant understands there are two times every day that a teenager will talk. They’re a little inconvenient for us, but we need to know when they are. The first is driving in a car – side-by-side relationship – much safer. You’re looking out the windshield, this is when conversations, not long ones, but they will let a little bit out, a little bit out, a little bit out and our job as a consultant is to really listen. The other time is late at night when they’re falling asleep. This is when they’re tired, their defenses are down – they will start to talk. Again, our job is really to listen – it’s not to give advice, it’s to really listen to them. As the consultant, the great consultants really do a good job of listening and then asking questions. And letting the questions direct people to the next level of what they’re going to do. So if the child is having trouble with friendship, you know, it can be, “I wonder what it would take to improve the friendship?” “I wonder what they would say about you, if there’s anything you do they particularly like or gets in the way of the friendship?” So you just throw questions out there. The other thing to understand is you’re the consultant for most of the time. But when it comes to life-threatening issues, health and safety issues, that’s when you have to step back in it and be a manager. And it will be often ugly with teenagers when you have to step in and take control again, but their health and safety has to come first.

Michael Riera, PhD Author & Educator, shares advice for parents on how the best methods for connecting with your teenage child in order to stay close with them


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Michael Riera, PhD

Head Of School, Brentwood School

Michael Riera, PhD, Educator, Author, Media Personality, and Speaker. Michael Riera is the Head of School at the Brentwood School, best-selling author, award-winning columnist, educator, television commentator, and national speaker on issues of children, adolescents, families, and parenting. Mike is the author of Right From Wrong: instilling a Sense of integrity in Our Children, Field Guide to the American Teenager, Uncommon Sense For Parents With Teenagers, and Surviving High School. His most recent book, Staying Connected To Your Teenager, was launched with three appearances on Oprah! For eight years he was the Family Consultant for CBS The Saturday Morning Early Show and also hosted an award winning television show on the Oxygen Network, Life in Progress, as well as his own daily radio show, Family Talk with Dr. Mike. Mike has worked in schools for over 20 years as a head of school, counselor, dean of students, teacher and consultant. 

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