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KellyTollett
KellyTollett asks:
Q:

How do I talk to my 13 year old son without it turning into a debate?

Today for example my husband sat down with my son about his grades. He is a good kid never gets in any trouble and for the most part he is a A,B student. Now & then his grades slip and we have to talk to him. So my husband starts the conversation by saying I just want you to listen and not say anything. Just a few seconds into the conversation it turns into a screaming match.
In Topics: Teen issues, Discipline and behavior challenges, Communicating with my child (The tough talks)
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Boys Town National Hotline
Apr 4, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

For a debate to take place there needs to be at least two willing participants.  You can choose to not participate in a debate or yelling match, by yourself staying calm and in control.

Starting the conversation by telling your son that you want him to listen and not say anything, puts him immediately into a defensive position.  He may be expecting to be lectured or to be in some sort of trouble.  You can establish rules around conversations, such as when one person is talking, the other needs to listen and not interrupt and that goes for both parent and child.  If your son starts yelling you can ask him to stop and talk in a normal tone.  If he does not stop, then you can decide to end the conversation and ask that you both come back later when everyone is calm again and ready to talk.  

Understand that the teenage brain is not fully developed, which makes teens prone to impulsive and erratic behaviors.   You can model appropriate behavior and teach him skills such as staying calm.  Allow him to express himself, but also correct him if he uses inappropriate language.  Let him know that you love him no matter what…it is the behavior you don’t approve of.  

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Additional Answers (2)

cujofprince
cujofprince writes:
I'm not sure I would be providing a right answer here.  My son just turned eighteen recently.  In the past years, I have allowed him to express himself and tried to teach him independence.  The problem is, as he grew into a young man, he has taken it that he has the right to speak his mind, and his mind only.  Today, I have a hard time getting him to listen and take our (mine and my wife's) ideas and opinions.  He's quite a smart kid but still is growing, and hence can not really know everything.  He reads a lot of books and one of his favorite shows is "Myth Busters," so he always thinks he has the right answer.  It can be frustrating sometimes to hold a conversation with him.  I say, you should be careful in what you allow him to get away with, because once he thinks he of age, then goes your authoritative stance.
> 60 days ago

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rkaiulani
rkaiulani writes:
Hi there,
I think that the main thing to remember when talking with a teen is to do a lot of listening. They won't feel they need to yell if they are being attentively listened to and their concerns are being addressed. Here is a link to a great article on this topic. Hope it helps!

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