Being a teen is hard enough, but when you don’t feel supported on the home front, life can feel pretty unbearable. Members of Give Us The Floor self-report that family problems are the number one issue discussed in our teen-only, confidential supportive chat groups.
With the world on lockdown from the pandemic for over a year now and the majority of schools still not open, the home situation for many has only intensified. Being trapped in an unhappy home with no respite is hard on everyone
Every family has its own unique set of problems. These tips may be helpful in learning how to cope in your family unit.
Try to Build Rapport
Try to chat with your family every day about little stuff, such as TV shows you like, basketball games, the dog, what’s for dinner that night. Being able to talk about the small stuff makes it easier to move on to the big stuff when the time comes.
Try to be the Change
Just because you’re the child and not the parent doesn’t mean you can’t help improve the communication in your household. Speak up! Ask your family to schedule a time to sit down and talk about the issue at hand. Set a time limit and agree to keep the discussion within that time frame, even if you have to revisit it the next day. It may even help to set a timer. Be sure to only pick one thing to focus on in the discussion. Make everyone aware of the purpose of the discussion and ask them to arrive with suggestions and solutions to help solve the issue.
Direct the Conversation Towards a Solution
Try to practice listening without interrupting (we know it’s not easy!), and see if you can agree to find a solution together. If you give your family time to tell you what they think, they’re more likely to listen to you.
Try the “five-second rule”: this is where everyone agrees to wait five seconds after another person has finished talking before responding. This helps avoid interruptions and keep the conversation from escalating into an argument. It also gives you time to think about what you want to say next.
It can also be helpful to name a common goal when you bring up a hard subject with someone, such as “I want our home to be happy and I know you do, too. Here’s how I think I can help make that happen.” This can help make them feel like an ally instead of an opponent.
It’s not uncommon during an argument for the conversation to derail, and for participants to begin talking about every unresolved issue they’ve ever had with the other party. Nothing gets solved when this happens. Even if your members of your family start doing this, try to refrain from bringing up past issues. If you notice that happening, it could help to calmly say something like, “I know that me breaking curfew last month is something you’re still upset about, but I really need to talk about not having enough time to get my homework and chores done. Can we please stay focused on that right now?”
Finally, try to decide on a solution together after everyone has had a chance to speak to their needs. Can you strike a compromise and make an agreement to handle things differently in the future? Some people like to write down their agreements on paper or even make an informal written contact. It always helps to manage the agreement instead of the argument when things get heated in the future. Be clear about what you’re willing to compromise on, and make sure you stick to your part of the agreement.
This has been an incredibly challenging year for everyone. Remember, you aren’t alone! Our supportive group chats have helped thousands of teens feel less lonely and isolated.