II. Practice Being Effective and Let Others Worry About Whether You Are Being Right.
Join the Friday night/Saturday night party. You were a teen yourself not so long ago. Relax, abandon (temporarily) your adult assumptions about teens and go with the flow of conversation. Thank the kids for being sensitive to the environment and putting all (or most) of their empty cans in the trash instead of littering. Don't feel compelled to initiate conversation. Ask questions (without any implied answers or judgments).
Test their legal knowledge. " Are adults supposed to notify law enforcement if they find themselves in the presence of persistent and continuing lawbreaking? You seem to be a bunch of nice kids—what should I do?"
Talk to them in their own language. You once spoke it. " Do you guys go to school much? Is there anything you like about it?"
Compliment them on their ability to (so far) navigate their world. " You all have been doing this street party stuff down here for quite awhile. But you're still on the street. None of you are locked up? How have you managed to do this?"
Be persistent. Show up every weekend. Be patient. Give them a little time to change course in some way. Let them save face (of course us adults never need to do this). Encourage other neighbors to join the club.
Look for openings to, either individually or with the entire group, act more like they expect adults to act. But wait until the climate (context,etc) of the interaction gives you "permission".Etc.
Teenagers are not adults. As science now tells us, the teenage brain is not yet an adult brain. And so teens can't possibly think like us adults. Effectiveness with teens means engaging them based on how they think, not on how we adults think.
This is a teachable skill—and a "learnable" skill too. But it's not an easy walk. At least at the beginning. You have to be willing to park your ego at the door. If you're interested in going further, check out the interview with a mother trained in our system at our .com site.
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A Program To Help You Deal Effectively with Teen Problems
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