QUOTES & WISDOM
TOP OF THE MIND
QUOTES & WISDOMfrom the Top of the Mind
QUOTES & WISDOM
Top of the Mind
Why Our Kids Don’t Listen To Our Advice
Have you noticed that when you give advice to one of your children about what they are doing wrong, or what they need to change, they rarely say, “What a great idea! Thank you for sharing”? No, in fact, what most people discover is that their well-meaning advice is not only ignored, but often their child becomes even more resistant… sometimes to the point of becoming angry or defiant. Read more
Have you noticed that when you give advice to one of your children about what they are doing wrong, or what they need to change, they rarely say, “What a great idea! Thank you for sharing”? No, in fact, what most people discover is that their well-meaning advice is not only ignored, but often their child becomes even more resistant… sometimes to the point of becoming angry or defiant.
This is especially true if our child is a teenager or young adult, because the developmental task of someone at this stage of life is to figure out who they are by first being “not us.” This is why it seems that everything that we say is wrong. Therefore, it will be especially important for us to frame our advice in a way that they hear as valuable.
To do this, I suggest that we raise our awareness of the neuroscience behind their resistance, which means becoming clear about how their brain is processing or interpreting our advice. In other words, we need to understand how the limbic system or middle brain will either route data down to the lower 20% of the brain (the brainstem, where they become more resistant and less open to advice) or up to the neocortex, where they can hear our advice for the well-meaning suggestion it was meant to be.
Unfortunately, most teenagers and young adults will tend to interpret our advice as either criticism or some statement about our lack of confidence in them or their judgment. Further, chances are that this has been going on for quite some time, which means that there may be a history of conflict or them interpreting our advice in this negative way, and our interpreting their rejection as a lack of respect.
This is why I advise parents to begin by resetting their relationship with their teenager by saying something like, “You know, I’ve been thinking, if I started treating you less like a child and more like an adult, would that help our relationship?”
The reason that this has the potential to lay a foundation for a much more successful relationship going forward is that, in many ways, we all want the same thing. They (the teenager) want to be seen as an independent adult and know that we have confidence in their ability to make good decisions. And, we want them to grow up to be a confident adult who is good at making and keeping adult agreements.
Of course, the problem is that they don’t always make good decisions (as we didn’t when we were teenagers), and this is in part due to the fact that the executive functions of the brain aren’t fully developed until around age 25. This doesn’t mean that they can’t make good decisions…it’s just harder for them.
However, the more they see us as someone who supports their independence and has confidence in them, the more they are able to access the part of the brain that is able to take all information into account (including our advice) and make good decisions.
Of course, all of this is easier said than done. Therefore, if you would like to learn more about how to engage others in a way that they hear your advice as helpful, I suggest that you contact me. Until we are able to understand the neuroscience behind our communications with others and frame our suggestions in a way that they hear as valuable, our advice will tend to go unheeded and unheard.
~ All the best, Dr. Bill