We have lots of pets in our home. This morning, I noticed our parakeet looking at ‘himself’ in a mirror in his cage. He must think it is another bird like himself because he sits there for hours singing to his ‘friend.’ But the ‘other’ bird never sings back!
Do you ever feel like you are ‘singing’ your values and beliefs to your teenage son or daughter and there is no response, like you are talking to yourself? One thing is true: Unlike the bird in the mirror, your kids are hearing you whether or not they are living out your words or not. Continue to model for them good behavior and sing out your love to them. One day, it may make a difference!
In the meantime, here are some tips you can use to improve your relationship with your child:
1. Give your child unconditional love and acceptance.
2. Learn to better listen to your teen’s ideas, even if you don’t agree with them.
3. Model good behavior to your child. Be a good example.
4. Show your child that he or she has value and is important.
5. Allow your child to participate in decisionmaking with your guidance.
6. Give positive ‘strokes’ as much as possible such as compliments, hugs or pats on the back.
7. Don’t just focus on bad behavior or poor performance. Look for improvement and emphasize this instead.
Remember that your words, no matter how well meant, will seldom be heard if the relationship is not there. So cultivate an atmosphere of love and trust!
Terry M. Dickson, MD, ACG, CPCC, is the founder and director of The Behavioral Medicine Clinic of NW Michigan that has served and supported children, adolescents, and adults with ADHD for over eleven years. He is a graduate of the ADD Coach Academy and the Coaches Training Institute and serves as vice president of the board of directors of the ADHD Coaches Organization. He is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach. Diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, Dr. Dickson speaks regularly on ADHD and has been interviewed locally and nationally on radio, television, and CHADD’s Ask the Expert online. Dr. Dickson and his wife of 32 years have two teenage children, both of whom have ADHD.