There are a series of subtle changes that begin to emerge in your pre-teen, marking the official end of childhood and the advance to the teenage years.
These behaviours generally include an increase in the eye-roll count, less verbal exchange and a whole new vocabulary parents must contend with: bae, whatevs, and YOLO-as-verb.
And when it comes to having the important conversations with your teen about drinking, their strange behaviour can make it tough to get through to them – but don’t let that stop you.
But the good news is, it’s not impossible. Here’s an introduction to the most common teen categories – and how to communicate with them.
“How was school honey?”
“Did you enjoy soccer training today?”
Ok. If this exchange is becoming the dominant communication style with your teen, then welcome to The Mute. The teen Mute is incapable of forming full sentences, which may drain the brain or energies of the teen. (These energy reserves are important for digital communication with friends, duh).
Communication strategy: The best strategy for the teen Mute is to subtly wait for any windows of opportunity, which means the teen has said something to you or in your general direction, and then engage quickly.
The trick here is not to appear too eager, or you will cause an eye-roll. Be on the lookout for spaces and places with fewer distractions, such as the car, kitchen or the laundry, where you’ll be doing things but they won’t.
You may feel your mute child isn’t responsive to your prattle, but be sure their minds are working overtime. Mind the rookie error of loading the drinking conversation into one big pep talk though. That’s not going to work for this wary species. Coming on too heavy will activate the aforementioned eye-roll. Break it down into key themes such as being smart about your choices, looking after your mates and how to recognise the effects of alcohol.
The Rebel is identifiable by the quirk of the Opposite Action-Reaction default setting. That is, whatever you would like your teen to do, they would like to do the opposite.
“Do you mind putting that away please?” is just an invitation for a response such as “Yes. I do mind.” Ok, excellent. The teen Rebel will also look for any boundaries in their life, in order to push them. This may include but is not limited to: school rules, uniforms, chores, punctuality and all simple requests. The teen Rebel thrives on defiance and witty comebacks, LOL.
Communication strategy: To talk to the teen Rebel about serious teen issues then, one must employ a similar tactic. Sarcasm. Start your sentence with “yeah, as if you would ever do that” and then insert risky behaviour. This will stump the Rebel teen, who will accidentally engage in conversation with you by immediately disagreeing. #winning.
The great news is that if you’ve got a rebel, chances are you’ve got a smart kid there. Congratulations, that’s something you can work with. Show you’re smart too and be well researched in what’s trending in their social networks. Bring up alcohol-related examples and bathe in their rebellious defiant wisdom. The key then is to suspend your own judgment and be prepared to hear things you may not want to. Just remember it’s a work-in-progress and opening the dialogue is like finding a pulse when doing first aid. We can work with that.
The Drama Queen.
Brace yourselves for this one. And then simultaneously cast your mind back to the toddler years. Because the teen Drama Queen has many similarities to a toddler who is facing a crisis of epic proportions – only teen Drama Queens are generally bigger, hairier and louder, and involve you ruining everything.