Dear Ilana and Jess: I have what’s maybe a classic problem: My 14-year-old daughter, Nicky, has an attitude. I know it’s normal teenage stuff, but it’s really getting to the family. How do I change the way she speaks to her mother and me? -Nick
Dear Nick: This may be a classic problem, but, as you know, that doesn’t make it any less frustrating for the whole family. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do too curb a bad attitude.
Know when to ignore. Resist the temptation to respond to every snarky remark. If you know your daughter is trying to get your goat, don’t give it to her. Most often, snippy comments are what we’d call an attention-maintained behavior; meaning, a behavior performed for the sake of getting attention. Good attention and bad attention are equal in this case, so showing your daughter that you’re outraged may actually make things worse. If your daughter says something snippy beneath her breath, pretend she said nothing at all. Make sure other members of your family do the same.
Give her new language. If your daughter is speaking to you inappropriately, replace her language. Use whatever leverage you have. For example, let’s say Nicky wants you to hand her something and instead of showing humility she snaps, “Dad, give that to me.” Don’t hand over that phone/laptop/remote/anything until she adjusts her language. Tell her: “Dad, could you please hand me my laptop?” Once she asks the way you’ve instructed, go ahead and give her what she wants.
Finally, and as always, model the behavior you want to see. If you become snippy with her, apologize, just as you’d like her to do.
Say This: “Nicky, I need you to say this instead: ‘Dad, could you please hand me my laptop?’”
Not That: “I don’t know why you have such an attitude lately!”
Say This, Not That is based on the work of Cognition Builders: a global, educational company headed by Ilana Kukoff (Founder & CEO) and Jessica Yuppa Huddy (Chief Learning Officer). Everywhere from New York City to California to Shanghai to Zurich, the Cognition Builders team is called upon by A-list entertainers, politicians, CEOs, and CFOs to resolve the conflicts that upend everyday life. When their work is done, the families they serve are stronger than ever. With their new book, Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter Kukoff and Yuppa Huddy have selected the most common conversational mistakes parents make, and fixed them. For more information, please visit: https://cognitionbuilders.com. To purchase Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter visit: http://publishing.andrewsmcmeel.com/books/detail?sku=9781449488055.
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