She woke up in a mood. You know, that mood where your teen won’t take “no” for an answer, has a chip on her shoulder, and acts like everything you say and do is wrong. And yes, there are times when my teen is loving and kind…but there are other times when my child gets on my nerves, every last one of them.
On some challenging days, I just have no words left to say. I think that hiding in another room sounds like a good idea. Have you ever been in this spot with your tween or teen? Here are 5 go-to phrases that you can use when your kid is on a roll, and you are exhausted.
When your child is…
1. Argumentative: “I love you too much to argue with you.”
When you see that a discussion isn’t going anywhere, this is a great phrase to use. It communicates that you aren’t going to argue anymore — not out of annoyance or disgust, but because you love your child. There is really nothing your teen can do to continue arguing after that statement. If he still continues to argue, repeat the sentence until it sinks in.
2. Demanding: “What do you need?”
When your teen acts as though everyone should be serving her, or she starts to get overly bossy and grumpy, there often can be something she needs underneath it all. This phrase, “What do you need?” serves two purposes. First, it helps your teen stop and think about what it is that he might actually need. It gives your teen a chance to articulate it. Second, it communicates to your teen that you care, and if it’s in your control, you will help.
3. Whiny: “Do you want to talk?”
Kids whine when they feel a variety of emotions. Maybe they are feeling sorry for themselves, bored, tired, hurt, or even hungry. Maybe something happened much earlier in the day, and it’s still bothering them in the back of their mind. Instead of “Stop whining! I can’t stand it anymore,” ask, “Do you want to talk?” Get out their favorite snack and sit down to see if they need to get something off their chest. If they say, “No! Why?” Then you can say, “Well, you don’t seem like yourself today. I just wanted to make sure there wasn’t anything bothering you.” Most likely, your teen will be touched by the offer and you can get to the bottom of the whining.
4. Angry: “I hear what you are saying.”
This one is often the hardest one for me to take. And I know that if I respond, it’s most likely going to be an angry response (which will not help). So instead, use this as your go-to: “I hear what you are saying.” People who are on an anger-spree just want to be heard — and knowing someone hears them makes them feel understood. It doesn’t mean that you agree or won’t address the conflict again later — it just means that for now, you are listening and giving her the dignity to hear what they have to say.
5. Sad: “I’m so sorry, and I love you.”
When someone else is willing to simply sit with you in your pain for a moment, it can make it so much more bearable.
Whether it’s crying, moping, or sulking, a teen’s sadness can drag everyone down. And there’s a good chance that you will just want to give her a pep talk and a “Suck it up, buttercup!” speech. But the sadness may persist. So try this one on for size: “I’m so sorry, and I love you.” End of story. A hug goes well with this one too. When someone else is willing to simply sit with you in your pain for a moment, it can make it so much more bearable.
What is your go-to when your teen is getting on your last nerve?