One of the key ways to holding your nerve throughout a tough conversation with your teenager, if they have crossed the line, is to watch yourself in the situation beforehand.
In other words, you can imagine how you will go, before having a difficult conversation.
This is when you picture yourself not only coping with the task at hand but imagining how you’ll react.
Imagine where you are sitting when you’re having the conversation. In fact, I suggest that you sit there, see yourself beginning and how it will pan–out.
Imagine how your teenager might be, what they’ll look like and how you’ll react.
Imagine yourself staying calm but firm and insisting on what you need while also giving ground where you need to.
Notice the reactions you could have inside yourself and try to visualise yourself restraining yourself.
Think about how you’re going to respond if they get upset.
In other words, you’re trying hard to imagine something before you do it.
In my opinion, the hardest part of having a conversation with a gnarly teenager is holding your nerve – being firm about what you expect and at the same time not losing it.
By imagining yourself coping well, you’ll be quicker to react, because you’ve already been there - in your mind anyway - rather than having to make it up on the spot. Performance coaches for sports-stars ask their stars to do this all the time. They ask their charges to imagine kicking a goal, hitting 100 or holding the cup! I suggest you do the same if you are going to have a tough conversation with your teenager, where you are asking them to be accountable.
Just a little bit of preparation – and imaging yourself coping - can prepare you to go into a tough conversation to ask for what you want and to remain composed.
- Michael Hawton, MAPS