Last week my middle school son started football. I thought everything was going fine. But yesterday morning he woke up with a stomachache and told me that he knew he wouldn’t be able to make it to football camp in the evening.
I thought it was a little premature and my mother’s intuition kicked in saying there was something more going on. I figured that as the day went on his stomach would get better and he would tell me what was really bothering him.
Of all my children it is my youngest that is the hardest to breakthrough. When things are bothering him, he lets it bottle up inside. He has a much harder time than my other two children with sharing things that are on his mind.
After on and off probing throughout the day I finally gave up. It became very clear that his stomach wasn’t bothering him. He was eating and playing. When I would question him about not going to football he would say he just needed a break.
Well the trouble with that was football had just started. We paid extra money this week for this particular camp and I informed him that he had a long season ahead. I began to question if he wasn’t ready for football. It is very physical and I thought maybe the physical training was too much for him.
Eventually I got out of him what was really going on. It had nothing to do with the physicality of the training; it was the “yelling” of two particular coaches. I could see both sides of the coin. My youngest is extremely sensitive. He really does have a hard time with someone being mad at him or speaking harshly to him. On the other side of the coin I know that football coaches have to be loud in order to motivate the kids.
I didn’t know if this was a case of the coaches being overboard, as I know some can be, or if he was just being overly sensitive. In the end we discussed the situation at length and came to the conclusion it had more to do with his sensitivity. We talked through it and by the time we were done he was ready to go to football. When we picked him up later he had done just fine.
Very rarely do my children get yelled at. Yelling is something that always happened in my home growing up and I have tried very hard to not let that be the way I parent. Yelling at children doesn’t really accomplish anything. It is just a way for you to let off steam, nothing more.
Teenagers will often complain their parents yell at them. I don’t think yelling is necessarily a matter of raising your voice. Sometimes we “yell” at our teens when we speak to them in a manner that belittles them or criticizes them. So although I may not raise my voice very often, I have been guilty of yelling in other ways.
Some things come across to teenagers as one thing, even though we may not see it that way. Sometimes we just have to try and put ourselves in their shoes and think, “How would I receive this?”
In our sometimes frustrating moments raising teens, we may find ourselves reacting in a way that only pushes our teens further away. Part of our goal in parenting teens is to guide them toward their adult years. They need to learn how to engage in discussions that are productive. If our communication isn’t productive, how can we expect theirs to be?
So the next time you are going to talk to your teenager, think about how you are saying it and what tone of voice you are using. Remember that yelling can mean one thing to you and another thing to your teen, so stop yelling.