April 10, 2021

My teenager has told me that he has ‘made it brown’. What I do?

Getting into trouble often seems like a must during adolescence. When our adolescent sons or daughters tell us that they have screwed up, perhaps our automatic pilot wants to respond with a sermon or punish them for a month without leaving. It is the best? Let’s see…

Diana is 14 years old and has met her friends in the neighborhood where they live. Her mother drives her and agrees to pick her up when she calls, probably four hours later. But at two hours Diana calls her mother, the police tell them that their parents have to go pick them up because they cannot be in the area where they are, They have entered a private area jumping a fence in which there was a sign that clearly could read “No Trespassing”.

Sara, Diana’s mother, goes to pick up the girl and finds her in an area where she never thought her daughter would be: a kind of junkyard surrounded by a barbed wire fence. He cannot hide his amazement How is it possible that his daughter, always so sensible, has jumped that fence and is in a prohibited area for security reasons? But he notices his daughter, next to the police: she is extremely scared, relieved to finally see her and clearly does not seem to think that this mischief was funny nor will she want to repeat it.

The idea of ​​punishing her without going out has passed through Sara’s head, while she was going to the area where Diana is, the idea of ​​hugging her has passed, but now she realizes how important it is that I have told you what happened (because other friends have not called their parents) and that the punishment or the anger really does not make sense because the girl is clearly sorry. So she decides not to judge, not to lecture, and just ask curiously what happened, what she thinks about what happened, how she feels, and what decisions she is going to make after what has happened.

As the educator Marina Escalona said in a presentation at an event Managing children, “a long time ago a mother told me that she had gone at three in the morning to look for her 15-year-old daughter at the Las Rozas parties. When her daughter got into the car she said: “Mom, I have had a good time, you shit, I have snoozed with three “. At that moment, Marina says, the mother felt the urge to “take out her mother’s recipe to talk to her about decency.” But fortunately she thought that “the daughter came with a confidence, an innocence, a generosity to bring that experience of life and the mother felt that she had to live up to it.” That is why the mother told Marina: “I opened up to explore that experience and asked her how she had felt, if she was prettier or sexier, and to ask her why she needed that recognition”.

The truth is that, as Marina points out, if our adolescent sons or daughters have had the confidence to tell us something of their own, and especially some mistake they have made and which they regret, we may have to choose with what attitude to welcome that trust input: Are we going to judge, lecture and punish just by listening to them, or are we going to take care of and thank that trust by listening without judging, encouraging reflection together and taking advantage of learning from mistakes without hurting our children?

This does not mean, far from it, that we encourage our sons or daughters to mess it up even more brown the next time. This means first taking care of the bond and trust that our son or daughter has placed in us and helping him, with that trust, to reflect on the mistake he has made and on what he will do next time. Perhaps if we preach or punish from the start, we will unwittingly achieve that the next time our son or daughter gets into trouble, they won’t tell us about it. And if this happens, we will not be able to educate.

What can we do to build trust when our son or daughter messes it up?

1. Do not forget the adolescent in you. Surely if you remember that stage you will realize that you too got into trouble, you were rebellious, you explored forbidden areas and you defied the rules of your parents. And keep in mind that this time will probably not be the last time your teenager has it brown.

two. Remember the importance of your child trusting you and thank you. If that trust is broken, if your child decides that he is not going to tell you anything again, that he cannot trust you, you will not be able to educate. As María Soto used to tell us, “don’t break the bond”: “Educating our children should in no way break or deteriorate the relationship with them.”

3. Listen without judging, attend to your emotions. Many times our children, after getting into trouble, are scared, sorry, confused … It is important to take these emotions into account, because they will guide them to learn from this mistake.

Four. Help to reflect from the calm, bearing in mind that mistakes are learning opportunities. We may be tempted to make a speech, give the conclusions, and dictate what to do next time, but isn’t it better for him or her to come to their own conclusions? Asking him what happened, how he feels, and what he has learned from this situation for the next one is probably more positive than telling him what to do.

Surely now you feel like Carles Capdevila said: Even when they give you an idea you want to have a brown at home to apply it“Don’t worry, that brown will come sooner or later if you have a teenager at home.

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