Timing Is Everything: Especially With A Teen
My daughter is so stubborn.
She argues about everything
She won’t listen to anything I say
If I say one thing, she blows a gasket
I’ll ask her about her day and all she says is fine.
She’s so disrespectful.
It’s like she’s in her own little world
Do any of these sound familiar? If you are a mother of a teenager, at least one of these statements has crossed your mind at least once—or maybe several times a day.
I am going to give you a huge gift today. Here it is.
Timing is everything–especially with a teen.
Your daughter is under lots of pressure. There is pressure from school, self image, friends, romance, and fitting in. Your daughter is like a pressure cooker that’s been building up steam. The problem is that you don’t see it at first. All of this is boiling underneath the surface of your “sweet” girl.
You ask her, how was your day, and she blows up and you have no idea why.
Your daughter is hard wired for drama. With her undeveloped prefrontal cortex she quickly becomes emotionally flooded. At this point she is not dealing with a full deck. Her emotional limbic system has taken over. This primitive part of the brain has reduced abilities. In other words she is limited to fight, flight, and freeze responses.
She is in hyper REACT mode, and when she is in that place nothing good can be accomplished.
- She can’t accurately take in information.
- She can’t reflect on the past.
- She doesn’t have insight into her behavior.
- She doesn’t see the big picture.
- She does not have empathy.
When your daughter is stressed or emotionally flooded there is only one thing to do. Give her time to calm down.
Timing is everything.
The good news is that she is not stressed, pressured or reactive all the time. When the stress and pressure goes down you see your sweet little girl again. It’s like she’s back to her old self.
Let me make it super simple for you. If you want to have a good conversation with your daughter or if you need to talk through some issues, then you need to wait for the right time, which is when your daughter is calm.
1. The timing may not be convenient for you.
This is the bad news for moms. We are busy. It makes sense to catch up with your daughter when you are driving home from school, but this is often when you get the one word answers.
Here’s the deal.
You get the one word answers when she is stressed.
She may be trying to process the drama from school that day. She may be afraid that she failed her Spanish test. If you try to force her to talk at this point, it’s not going to work. She will get frustrated and Miss Nasty is going to show up.
Unfortunately, she may want to talk to you when you are winding down your day, or trying to finish some work…( Case in point—My daughter just came in and wanted to show me Billy Joel videos. I’m trying to finish this article and she is all chatty. Though I was tempted to tell her I was busy, I put the computer down and we had a fun twenty minutes together.)
If you pay attention to your daughter’s cues, you will see there are times she approaches you and is willing to let you in.
2. The moment the incident happens is usually bad timing
- You find out that your daughter has lied to you.
- She comes home an hour after curfew.
- She throws her shoe across the room and shatters the framed picture.
- She marches into your room and tells you she’s going to the party and doesn’t give a f___ what you think.
The moment the incident happens you want to contain the situation, but it is not the time to talk through the situation. You contain the situation by not letting her leave, or telling her that you will talk to her tomorrow.
The reason is this.
Both you and your daughter are a limbic cocktail because you are emotionally flooded.
You are going to be shocked, angry or sad but you are not going to be clear. This is the time that the drama can escalate quickly between the two of you. She will attack you and say hurtful things.
Who needs that?
You can talk through it the next day. Give yourself time to get clear about how you are going to handle the situation and what the consequences are going to be.
When both of you are calm, you can talk through difficult situations, but that will never happen the moment the incident occurs.
3. The moment is when she is calm
The best time to connect and enjoy your daughter is when she is calm and relaxed, and the best time to work through any kind of situation with your daughter is when she is calm and relaxed.
See the pattern.
You can’t control when your daughter is stressed out, but you can avoid pushing her when she is stressed.
You can help create a home environment that is relaxed. Let your daughter have downtime after school. Be careful not to be the 24 hour monitor where you are always pushing her.
Encourage your daughter. Be open to the spontaneous moments with your daughter.
Timing is everything.