Pausing To Reflect with Lisa Foster
May 16, 2023

How To Communicate With Your Teenager with Jeanine Mouchawar

How To Communicate With Your Teenager with Jeanine Mouchawar
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I am thrilled to be joined by Jeanine Mouchawar - mother of three adult children and a life coach for parents of teenagers. Jeanine’s focus is making parenting easier by teaching new communication strategies that stop the battles and ultimately create a calm, peaceful home. In this episode, you will walk away with simple tools to help you become a better communicator and listener for your teen. Resources: Guest Website: Instagram: Facebook: Free Class: Masterclass: How To Talk So Your Teens Listen: Other Resources: ⁠Recommended Products by Real Life Momz⁠: Products recommended by Real Life Momz. We love to share products that have worked for moms and made our lives easier; check out our weekly blog and highlighted products. Real Life Momz website: ⁠⁠ Subscribe: - Do you love the Real Life Momz Podcast and want more? Subscribe to  Real Life Momz, and for just $1.99 a month, you will receive access to all archived ad-free episodes from past seasons, early access to new episodes, and monthly bonus content. And subscribers-only will have access to upcoming topics and the ability to ask upcoming guests questions. When you subscribe and opt-in to receive emails, your questions can be answered on the podcast. So click here and subscribe today⁠⁠.⁠ ⁠h⁠ttps:// ⁠⁠⁠ --- Send in a voice message:


Hi, and welcome to Real Life Momz. I'm your host Lisa Foster and Real Life Momz is a podcast that's all about connecting moms through real parenting conversations. I believe that moms have so much insight and knowledge, and together we are powerful. On this podcast, we give moms a voice to tell their stories and share their expertise and resources through real conversations.

And this week we are joined by Jeanine Mouchawar She's a life coach for parents of teenagers. And she helps make parenting easier by teaching new communication strategies that set the battle and create a calm, peaceful home. And she's here today to help teach us some tools that we can use to better communicate with our teams.

Hi, Janine. Welcome to Real Life Moms. I am so glad to have you on a show today because you're a life coach for parents of teenagers, and one of your main things you help parents with is communicating with their teens, which as a parent of two[00:01:00]teens, I feel like they sometimes speak a whole nother language and it's not so easy to communicate.

So I really thank you for coming on and just talking about this topic with me today. Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Thank you for having me, Lisa. I'm, I'm happy to be here and hopefully provide a few tips and strategies that you can try today to, um, yeah, have a better relationship with your team. Well, that would be amazing.

So maybe just start and tell the listeners a little bit more about you and your background. Sure. Yeah. I am a life coach for parents of teens, like you said, and you know, in general I help parents have a better relationship with their kids. Um, I think, you know, as all of us have experienced, it's not easy being a parent as.

Especially a parent of teens. And you know, I know that firsthand. I have three now, young adult children. Um, a[00:02:00]26 year old, a 24 year old, and a 21 year old girl, boy, boy. And, you know, I was in the trenches just like all of you when they were teenagers. Yeah. It's just, I, I found the first years of parenting when.

Pretty smoothly. I kind of just parented instinctively. A lot of the parenting I had received growing up worked well, but then when we hit the teenage years, there was a lot of conflict and tension set in. I mean, I was noticing like. I was showing up as somebody I didn't wanna be yelling, giving, oh gosh.

Punishments. Um, and I was just, as this was all going on, I was noticing my kids were pulling away from me and we were losing that connection we, that we had when they were little. And I just didn't like who I was being, I didn't like feeling like we weren't[00:03:00]close anymore. And I just thought, oh my gosh, there's gotta be a better way.

And so I went to a parenting program with one of my kids and it, we brought those like communication tools and strategies back to our family and. There was just such a dramatic improvement where the argument subsided, the yelling subsided, the tension subsided. Like we knew we were given like a new way to communicate to one another where.

We actually were listening to each other and I felt like I dropped more into a role of like guiding and influencing versus feeling like, ugh. Like I was trying to strong arm them into behaving a certain way. And so when this just impacted my family so dramatically, I thought I really wanna share. Um, all of these strategies and tools[00:04:00]and knowledge with as many parents as possible, and so I started looking, how can I do that?

I found life coaching, which was super aligned, the principles of life coaching with the principles I'd learned in the parenting program. And so I went through a one year certification program and um, yeah, since then I've been coaching parents of teens and helping them out so they can enjoy the life that I ended up having.

A little bit late to the game, but hey, better late than never, or I like to say it's never too late. Oh my God, it sounds incredible and amazing. I'm like, what for? What is this class that you took with your child? Yeah. Okay. Great question. So, my middle son had, um, a had a bit of an event senior year, first day of school, and we were advised by the principal that we needed to, you[00:05:00]know, that, that his behavior was out of the range of normal and we needed to seek some help.

So we actually went to a program that was for teens that helped them with mindfulness. And coping skills and emotion regulation, um, interpersonal communication skills, and the parents were a part of that program because the principal was really like, Hey, like th this is a two-way street here, right?

These are relationships. There's two people in a relationship. And so, although we will help and support your team learning these. Skills. At the same time. You need different skills in order to communicate to them in a way they can hear you. And so it was a two-part program that was a couple times a week for a couple of months.

And like I mentioned, it was so fantastic. However, when it was over, We had just learned all this great[00:06:00]stuff and there was no continual support system. Mm-hmm. And you know, if you've tried anything, you know, whether it's a diet or you wanna run a marathon or whatever it is that you wanna try to do, as everybody knows, it's hard.

To change your habits and to try new things. And like once you get going, like y you might start to change things, but if you really wanna lock it in, you need to keep practicing and practicing and have some sort of support system or coach to help you lock it in so it becomes the permanent way you.

Communicate. And that's actually why I work with people in six month increments because they find they can learn everything the first two or three months and they start doing it and they're seeing this amazing result and they're so excited. But you really need a couple months after that to keep practicing with support.

So you really, everything just becomes now your new way of[00:07:00]talking, first of all, also keeps you kind of accountable, even though this is different, but like, so you're not. Slipping back to those old ways and old habits. Right. So that's so great. Yeah. Oh, that's funny. I just, A client just called and she says, are we meeting?

I'm like, no, it's next Thursday. And she said, oh, well I'm so glad I thought it was this Thursday, because I know you're gonna ask me if I did X, Y, and Z, and I haven't done it yet. So, mm-hmm. This is the motivation to do it and, and that's a huge advantage of, you know, having a coach and hiring a coach because they partner with you and you know, they help you keep moving forward in the direction that you want.

Yeah, totally. Now, okay, so you went to this class, you, you. Have your own coaching program. So what, what has been, I'm assuming these tools are different, like the tools that the kids are learning versus the tools that the parents are learning. Am I, am I assuming wrong, or is that, is that correct?[00:08:00]Um, though that is correct.

We actually, we didn't go to like a class together. We were in separate rooms, learning separate things. Mm-hmm. And then we would come together and practice with one another. When you came home, what was that? What was that one tool that was amazing for you and your family? Oh gosh. Um, I think the one that we started with that was so dramatic and like the number one thing that I teach and we work on is coming.

To a conversation with curiosity. And so instead of like telling them what they should do or they need to do, or providing your, your wisdom, your life lessons, or telling them what the right way is to do something instead, it's getting, you know, stepping into a conversation and getting curious and asking some questions.

[00:09:00]Hmm. So that was, um, what I think if like anyone walks away from today's episode with one thing to try, I would say try to really go to a conversation with compassionate curiosity. I love that cuz I've seen that with my own kids. Um, it's like, They'll sit, tell me a story. Right? But it's like a brief story.

It's not all the pieces. Mm-hmm. So I'm curious, and I am, cuz that's who I am. And I will ask a question and then they'll give me another part of the story. But I also feel like they're seeing how I would react to it, cuz the story might not be maybe. Ideal situations that I think, you know. Yeah. And so I'm like, okay.

And then I'll ask another question, but not in a blame way, more of a curiosity and then, oh, more of this story comes out. So I also learn more. And they also are kind of looking at me to see how I'm responding, if they can also give me more. Mm-hmm.[00:10:00]So it's interesting putting that curiosity with. Their side of it, like, almost like, okay, can I trust mom with this information?

Mm-hmm. You know, oh, she's not reacting, she's just asking more. Okay. But not in a, you know, not in a way that I'm telling them what to do or. Shaming them for what they're doing, you know, so it's, it is interesting. I mean that, that's so good, Lisa. Those are incredible, like parenting instincts, and what you're noticing is that as they show up to confide in you or share with you, You that when you ask questions, you're noticing, they're really sensing your energy around it.

Like, is she gonna judge me? Cause yeah, she's gonna judge me. I'm gonna shut down and stop talking. But when you ask those questions from a place of curiosity, which is what I hear you saying, you know that trust starts building between the two of you. And they end up sharing more and revealing[00:11:00]more as they feel like it's safe.

Mm-hmm. That you're not going to judge them. Yeah. And so that dynamic that you're leading with really helps with the connection that I think we're all looking for with our children. Mm-hmm. Yeah. So with your clients, since you see so many parents, what has been like their biggest struggles, what is kind of the repeat theme that keeps coming up in your sessions?

Yeah. Okay. I think the number one struggle is that parents tend to focus on the behavior that they're saying, right? Their kids on TikTok or, um, they didn't get a good grade, or they're drinking or they're, they don't like their friends, right? They're focusing on behavior that their teens doing, and then they are jumping in.

To try to correct it. Mm-hmm. And it makes so much sense because when[00:12:00]you think about it, when they were young, like that was our role when we saw them about to step off the top of the jungle gym and go crashing down, right? Mm-hmm. We jumped in and we educated them, right? Hey, don't do that. You know, if you do that, this will happen.

Right. We shared our wisdom. We told them what to do, what they needed to do, um, because they didn't have any experience in the world. And, and that was our role at that time. And when we played that role, we got all of this positive. Interaction. Right. Positive response from them. Okay, mommy, right? Or mm-hmm.

Big smiles or hugs when they came down the fire pole. Um, and so when we, when we as humans get that positive feedback, it becomes wired into our system. And so it's just perfectly natural that when they're a teenager,[00:13:00]you would continue to communicate that way. Because it's like, it's all, you know, and it worked really well.

Mm-hmm. But the problem is, is that our teens, when we communicate that way with them, When they're teenagers, they think, right. They don't wanna hear that anymore. They, they think you're annoying or irritating when you try to fix things or help them. Right? They might say like, go away. Leave me alone, or, mm-hmm.

Or they don't wanna be fixed. That's right. They're like, they don't, they don't feel broken some of the time either. Yeah, that's right. That's such a good point. And we don't wanna give them the message that they are broken. That breaks down their confidence. Right. So it's almost like, I think about it as when they were young, they were super curious and we provided our wisdom.

Mm-hmm. And now we wanna flip that around. Mm-hmm. We wanna be the curious ones and let them come up[00:14:00]with their own wisdom. And when we function in the role of we that we did when they were little, that's when we tend to focus on their behavior and try to fix it. Mm-hmm. So when they're teenagers, we have to back that up and we have to first figure out how to engage them in a conversation.

Then we have to figure out how to connect with them. Once you engage them in a conversation and connect with them, then you can work on influencing their decisions and their behaviors. Right, and that's exactly what you were sharing with me, that you're doing right. That when you're asking questions and they're telling you a story, you are engaging with them.

Mm-hmm. You are connecting with them where they don't feel your judgment. About anything. And then it's only then that you have the opportunity to really[00:15:00]influence, um, a decision they might be struggling with, right? Yes. Because I learned early on, and I've done a lot of talks with people like you on this podcast, which has been helpful for my growth as a parent, but I learned early on that.

Teens especially Will, they're gonna do stuff anyway. Like I can have them say like, no, drinking's bad, don't do this. No sex, no that, you know, I can, oh no. All day long. And all the reasons why. Mm-hmm. But they're curious and they're. I mean, I'd be naive if I thought my kids were not gonna try anything. So I decided to approach it differently and say to myself, well, I know they're gonna do it, and if they're going to do it, do I want to at least have a conversation, have them be able to come to me, because otherwise they're just going through their friends and getting advice, right?

Mm-hmm. And so that's a whole. Another,[00:16:00]you know, advice source that may or may not be good or looking at the internet. Yeah. If they can actually come to me and I can say calm, I can still disagree with their choice, but they can at least hear my advice cuz it's not coming from a place of No, no, no. You know?

Mm-hmm. I know. You know, so, so yeah. So early on, like one of the things my husband and I really agreed on early on, We don't promote drinking. I don't let underage kids drink in my house. My kids know that that's a rule. Um, but I'm not naive. My child does go to parties. Does she drink? I'm sure she does. You know, I'm sure.

Mm-hmm. Um, and what we told her, we said, listen, if you go to a party and there's alcohol and you do not have a safe ride, cuz it can drive now. Mm-hmm. Um, you call us and we will take your, you and your friends home, no questions asked. Mm. And you will not get in trouble. And, and she immediately goes, when my friends get in trouble, I said, no.

But if I see that it[00:17:00]is like being used and abused mm-hmm. Then that might be a problem. And if there's a problem, then we're gonna have to address that problem. Mm mm-hmm. You know? So, no, I don't want you, I'm not an Uber. You call me because you know your friend is throwing up. Right? No, no. We're not gonna pick up that.

That friend every weekend, that's a problem. Mm-hmm. But if it happens once or twice or you need a safe ride home mm-hmm. Then you're doing the right thing. And, and, and what my daughter has really done is what I've noticed. If she knows she's not gonna have a safe ride or there potentially is alcohol where she's going, she actually asks us to drive her.

Nice. Why? Which, I mean, once again, not for the drinking. I don't put that out there. Mm-hmm. You know, those are other conversations, but I also am really for the safety and otherwise she's gonna be trying to find a ride from someone else. And that might not be safe either. Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. So what I hear you saying is that you're prioritizing safety.

Mm-hmm.[00:18:00]And your relationship and communication with her over trying to do absolutes. Um, of, you know, no, you can't do this. No, you can't do that. And just realizing, you know, thinking back to when you were a teenager and you were curious and you wanted to try things. Mm-hmm. And, you know, to recognize that really the power lies in the ability to have a conversation about these things.

And if your teen feels like they can't have a conversation with you, they're gonna be sneaky. Yeah, and when they're sneaky and they're not talking to you and not forthcoming, that's actually what creates the fear inside of you. That's what causes you to be worried and to be scared is like the unknown.

Mm-hmm. The uncertainty. And I, what I find is sometimes what we don't realize is if we want to stop being so scared,[00:19:00]if we wanna stop worrying so much, our default. Mechanism is to try to, you know, control their behavior. Yeah. Which we know doesn't work. Yeah. But what does work to get rid of that fear and that worry is to be able to talk to them, to know that they're gonna come to you and talk to you when they're in trouble.

Right when they're not feeling safe. And to know that you've got this open dialogue, to have these conversations, so you have the opportunity to educate them on areas they might not, you know, have enough information on. Right. And I, yeah, and I also think when they do come to you, I feel like they believe you a little bit more.

Like they almost trust. Your opinion more because you've kept that line open. Like they know that, for example, like my daughter's going to the party and I'm saying I'll pick her up. They know that I know that there might be[00:20:00]alcohol there, right? Mm-hmm. But, um, when I have to talk about something like with drugs, you know, and there are some drugs that are, I'm not for drugs either.

And I'm not saying my daughter's doing those, but, but she'll listen to me cuz I think. There are things that are really dangerous. Mm-hmm. And she knows if I'm gonna say that, like that's, that's the truth. You know, I'm not just doing it to control her. That this, even just trying this would be really bad.

And I think she's more likely, and both my kids are more likely to listen to that because we have kept communication open. Mm-hmm. Um, so when I say things that are really serious and they're like, oh, okay. You know, it's not just another, no, no, no. This must, this is really a no. Mm-hmm. Yeah, I mean, what I hear you saying too is something that, um, I help parents with as well, which is to try to shift from that sort of controlling thought of I want to make them[00:21:00]do something to, I want to teach them.

Yeah. Right. I want to figure out how to support them, to motivate them, to encourage them where you guys are on the same team. Mm-hmm. Right against the problem versus your team is the problem. Right? So when you feel like you're on the same team and you're on the same side, you drop into a place that's more, um, teaching and instead of trying to strong arm them and.

You know, make them do something. For sure. So with your clients and what you've seen, where do you think the disconnect happens between teens and parents? Yeah, I, I think the disconnect and the breakdown really boils down to communication, right? Mm-hmm. Because when you're focused on their behavior and trying to get it to change, like your intention is good, but to recognize like your teen needs[00:22:00]something different from you now, right?

They wanna solve their own issues. And like, listen, no one taught us how to communicate with teenagers in today's environment, right? But there are like simple strategies you can do to communicate differently so they can actually listen and hear you. Hmm. Um, so if you want, I can share a few. I was gonna say, can you share those?

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So I've got five like, simple foundational steps that we start with, with, um, when I'm working with the client. The first step is really the. You gotta get yourself calmed down, right? Because if you see behavior that's alarming and you react emotionally, you know, like that tends to turn into a fight or an argument, or your kid's gonna pay lip service to you and they're probably gonna disengage and push you away, which is the exact opposite thing[00:23:00]of what you're going for.

So just to first like notice. In your own body and like for yourself, like, oh man, I feel anger boiling up, or I feel frustration boiling up, or fear or worry. Like I feel these feelings coming up and I, and I'm really wanna talk to them. So I'm gonna try to resist that urge and slow myself down and figure out, you know, and this is different for everyone, but try to identify.

A few things that you do for yourself that are calming. Mm-hmm. Right? So some people focus on their breath or they meditate, right? Some people might take a walk in nature, some people might listen to a certain song that's calming or, you know, pet their dog. Um, but just to think about what sort of things do to calm you down.

So resisting that urge to talking. Talking immediately. Mm-hmm. Like pausing for a[00:24:00]minute. Calming yourself down and giving yourself that time to intentionally respond, you know, with your wise mind instead of like react emotionally from your gut hip. Mm-hmm. And I love the taking a moment cuz I think it's almost like we don't remember, we're allowed to do that.

Like we have to react and have the answer in the moment. But it is okay to say, We're gonna carry on this conversation in a little bit. I'm gonna take a moment, you know? Yeah. It's okay to actually leave or just get quiet, or whatever it is to take that moment before saying anything. So I think we forget that.

Absolutely. Um, I hear that time and time again, like, oh, I, I never thought to do that. Right. We just feel like, oh, we need to talk about it right away, right then in the moment. And oftentimes that's not a productive. Time. Mm-hmm. So you wanna choose your time[00:25:00]wisely when you're going to communicate about something.

Um, and just know it's, it's perfectly fine to say, Hey, you know, I need a minute. Mm-hmm. Or, Hey, let's circle back to this in the morning. Yeah. Or just something like that. Um, you know, there's, it's not a problem to slow things down and take a pause. Right. And they might need that pause. Too, because I, I see shutdown sometimes, you know, they're like, I just can't do that.

Or I just don't want, you know, and it's just a snappy shutdown. Mm-hmm. So that pause for both of you could actually be really helpful. Like, okay, we can circle back in the morning, because then they can ponder on their thoughts and calm down too. They can use the same strategy. Yeah, exactly. And when they're feeling like your anger or your annoyance, they're, you know, they're gonna feel that energy from you and they're gonna pull away.

Mm-hmm. Or they're gonna argue, or they're gonna lean in and start arguing. Right. Or they might shut down.[00:26:00]Like, and none of those three things we want. Right. We want to be able to have, engage in a conversation with them to help them and guide them. Right. Yes. All right. I love that strategy. Perfect. So in step two, I teach how to, um, basically how to start a conversation, uh, in a way that just states your observation.

Like what you're observing simply and clearly short and to the point with no tone or no judgment in your voice. So that might be something like, think about for a minute. Like you find out your teenager got a dionna test. Mm-hmm. And your mind just starts going like, I know exactly why they got that dean.

They were on, you know, TikTok all night last night and they weren't studying. And, and then, you know, you approach 'em with. You know, why'd you get a D on the test? Right? Yeah. Uhhuh and the,[00:27:00]you know, you're gonna end up getting a result that you are not looking for, right? They're gonna get defensive, they're going to maybe feel ashamed.

They're gonna, they're not gonna wanna engage in a conversation. So instead, you wanna try something like just stating your observation like, Hey, I noticed you got a D on the test. That's it. Mm-hmm. That's stuff too. Yeah. But I'm telling you, this is like, it's simple and doable, but it's not easy. You wanna take out all your opinions about the behavior you're observing.

Mm-hmm. Right? So it might be something like, Hey, I, I noticed you, you know, you seemed angry. That's it. Just a couple of words that show that are your observation, and when you practice this and really try to control yourself from saying more than a few words, it, it forces you to eliminate[00:28:00]any like sneaky tone or sneaky judgment from whatever you're saying.

Right. And anything you didn't really want to say and regret later. Yeah, exactly. Which boy, don't we all do that. You're like, shit. Oh yeah. Why'd I say that? Well, and it's funny as you're asking those questions and there's like that quiet pause, like I feel like, oh my God, I need to answer. I need to answer, right?

Mm-hmm. So it's almost interesting how, by just saying that you then open up that that space for the child to then answer. You know? Yes, exactly. And that's really what we're working on too, is how to open up the space so they can answer and they're not gonna get defensive. So then the third step is what we talked about earlier, is asking a curious question.

And I really, um, suggest asking a what question, right? So that might be like, Hey, I noticed you[00:29:00]got a D on the test. What happened? That's it. Like, what was, that was like five words total. You wanna keep it super short and like your, the tone out of your voice. Mm-hmm. And that's only, uh, that's only possible to do if you start with step one, which is really calming your own emotions down.

Calming yourself down. If you wanna try like step two and three, you gotta first start with settling your own emotions. Yeah. Right. Or it might be like, hey, you know, they walk, say they get in the door from school and they seem like they're fuming. I don't wanna talk. Or, you know, you pick your time wisely.

And then you said, Hey, you know, you seemed angry. What's going on now? What? What happens when you say, when they say, I don't know. Isn't that so common? Oh yeah. I get the, I don't know. Good. Fine. Yeah, it's like one word kind of stuff. Yeah. So what do you[00:30:00]do with that type of stuff? Well, I think the Lisa the, A lot of times we get that because of the timing that we're choosing to have a conversation.

Hmm. That's a good point. So I think what happens subconsciously for us is we see our child angry or upset about something, and that feels really awful to us. We don't want them to be angry. We don't want them to be upset or disappointed. And so in order for us to s to stop that feeling, We have this urge to talk to them right then and there.

Right. Because we're trying to get rid of the feeling that's going on inside of us. Mm-hmm. Um, but that's when, that, most of the time, that's when you get like, I don't know, you know, or I don't wanna talk about it, or, you know, Some sort of sassy remark that they all do. Yeah, I would say really, you know, choose your time[00:31:00]wisely when they've had a chance to settle their own emotions as well.

Uh, That's such a, I mean, I'm just thinking even in a not so negative where they're not upset. Like my son, I pick him up from his middle school and as he comes in the car, I'm always like, well, how's your day? You know, cause like I haven't seen him and I've been at work and he's at school and, you know, just missed him.

And so how's your day? Yeah. And of course it's like good, you know, nothing. Yeah. And what I realized is, Then we'll drive and I'll just stay silent. And I've learned this the hard way cause I used to ask a lot of questions and I got a lot of eye rolls, Uhhuh. But then I just stay silent. And then a lot of times we'll go for a walk or a hike or something after school and.

And we'll go and then it's like full on chatting. Everything that's happened. Hmm. He just opens up and it's, I get it. Because, which I didn't see before. It's like when I get home from work, I'm tired. Mm-hmm. I[00:32:00]don't, I just interacted all day. I want a minute to like actually not see or talk to anyone. Yeah.

And I, I'm sure it's the same for them. It's like they just, were in school all day. They have a lot of demands and the last thing they wanna do, Is answer more questions that they almost need. He needs, I know that space in between. I mean, that's so insightful. I mean it's, I think the more we can sort of put ourselves in their shoes and think about, I mean, high school is filled with pressure, right?

They've got pressure to, from their teachers are just like studying and, and taking tests and then they, you know, teenagers wanna. Fit in with their social group. Mm-hmm. And so, you know, that can feel like a lot of pressure and exhausting and they, you know, you can't show up to school and, and show the worst side of yourself.

You're trying to show the best side of yourself because you care about what your peers think. You care about what your teachers think. And so sometimes, you[00:33:00]know, they walk in the car, get in the car after 5, 6, 7, 8 hours of this and yeah, they just wanna unwind. Mm-hmm. And just relax and. And not talk. So it's so great, you know, that you, that you realize that, and that when you don't hammer them with a bunch of questions when they get in the car, especially vague ones, that they're just gonna say fine to.

Right? Like, how was your day? Yes. Um, you know, when you don't, you create the opportunity for them to come to you later and share. Mm-hmm. And so instead, I would just suggest you say things when they get in the car. Like, so good to see you. Yeah, true, true. Yeah. Because you do feel that way, right? Mm-hmm. I, I missed you so good to see you.

You know, and, and that, and just that. Yeah, just asking them a question, not a question, but a statement like, I missed you. Mm-hmm. Oh, I love that so much. Yeah.[00:34:00]Yeah. That makes them feel so good. You know, like and, and maybe they face some rejection at school and all of a sudden they get in the car. And their mom is like, happy to see them and believes in them and loves them.

Mm-hmm. Right. It's just, it's, it feels so good to them and it encourages them to circle back around to you later. So it's really at when, again, like picking your time wisely when you want to just state what you're observing and ask a curious question. Mm-hmm. And the other reason that this is so powerful, Is because we're trying to understand like what is the root cause of their behavior?

Like what are they thinking? What are they feeling that caused them to get a D on the test? Mm-hmm. Or that caused them to start vaping or that caused them to be obsessed with their. Appearance, right? Mm-hmm. There's always a thought and a feeling that happens[00:35:00]first before the behavior, and that's really like, that's the magic of being able to influence them or guide them, is to understand like what was your thought process that led you to make that decision.

Yeah, cuz it's usually something. Underlying. Mm-hmm. Always what's going on. Yeah. Always. Yeah. Like, I mean, maybe they would say something like, well, you know, I just, all my friends are following this influencer on TikTok and they are all buying their makeup at Sephora and stuff, and I feel like I wanna do that too.

Right. So then you get the sense, okay, you kind of know what's going on underneath it, of she's trying to fit in. Right. And this is what her friends are doing, and she feels almost worried or scared. Like if she doesn't do it, she won't fit in. Mm-hmm. So it's really like getting at the root cause of their choices and their[00:36:00]behavior.

It's, it's figuring out why. They chose to do what they did. Yeah, but my number one tip on that is stop asking why questions. We're trying to figure out why, but don't ask them why? Because you're gonna get stuck in this trap where, you know what I remember, what I would do is like, why'd you do that? Why'd you say that?

Mm-hmm. And there's just usually why questions have this underlying tone and judgment to it. Mm-hmm. Where, you know, it just pushes your child away. Right. You feel like you're accusing Yes. Yes. Absolutely. You know, I mean, you know, we might f feel this if, if we're the one cooking dinner and our spouse is like, why didn't you make dinner?

We're like, yep. Right. Think about that. Like you get really, like, why didn't you? Yeah, exactly. As I ordered a pizza today and I'll be honest.[00:37:00]Exactly. Alright, so most of the time why questions are laced with ju like sneaky tone and judgment, which really pushes our kids away. So I'd say just in general, try to ask a what question.

So you wanna know the next step? Yeah. What's the next one? Okay, so now, now hopefully they've shared like what they were thinking and what they were feeling, and that leads us to step four, which is showing that you really understand whatever's going on for them. And so in that step, you wanna try to validate what they're feeling, right?

So you know, it makes sense or it's perfectly understandable, or of course, you know, some sort of phrase that makes them feel like you understand what's going on, right? So it might sound like, I noticed you got a D on your paper. What happened? And if they say,[00:38:00]well, I just didn't have enough time to study.

Mm-hmm. I would think like, okay, sounds like they're feeling overwhelmed. So I would say something like, Hey, it makes sense. You might feel overwhelmed if you didn't have time to study. And so when you do that, then it normalizes what they're experiencing. If they're like feeling bad about themselves. Or overwhelmed.

Or pressured, it shows you're listening and. It shows like you're on their team and you're on their side, and they end up feeling like nothing's wrong with them. Mm-hmm. When you can really, you know, Get in there and, and, and have a, just a way to normalize what they're experiencing. So, and I'm not saying, like, I am definitely not saying you're condoning it, right?

You're not saying, yay, no problem. You've got a D This is not condoning. This is like helping them feel less alone in whatever their big[00:39:00]feelings are going on inside of them. Right, right. Because the D thing, right? You can't really fail. You don't want them to fail, right? So, mm-hmm. You know, I could also see, you know, I just, them kind of just saying, I just, I feel overwhelmed I couldn't study.

And I get, I get that. But then I also feel like for me, I run into sometimes. I'm just gonna say one of my children Yep. Doesn't think it's important, you know, like he just, he Well I'm saying he, so we all know, right? So he That's okay. They know, um, you know, he is in middle school still, and to him he is like, I don't even understand why we need to learn this.

I mean, grades don't really matter in middle school, and I don't see how this is going to help me. In life. And it's not, he's very bright, like probably too bright, you know, like where he is actually thinking how this is gonna help him in life.[00:40:00]Yeah. And, and so we end up running into conversations. Sophie has a, a grade that's not so amazing, uh, but he still has to pass right.

To mm-hmm. Move on. Um, it becomes a bigger conversation of like, wow. I, I also. Believe that I understand what you're saying. You're not wrong. Like I don't see how this is gonna help you in the real world either. I haven't ever used it. Yeah. But, um, you know, I always use the phrase of the Disneyland ride, right?

You wanna go to Disneyland, you wanna get into the real world. You still have to wait online and buy a ticket, right? And your ticket is passing this class, Uhhuh, Uhhuh, so that you can get to that point of the real world, you know? So, But it is, it is hard, you know, because it's, you know, as much as.

Sometimes you wanna just sit back and, and be like, okay, you're overwhelmed, and let me help you through that. Mm-hmm. Yeah. I guess my question in a roundabout way is how do you stress[00:41:00]the important things without getting them? You know, in a defense position and without you feeling like you're controlling.

Yeah. Oh, such a good question. This is like a human, to me, like a human nature question, you know? Mm-hmm. When, when we're, when we don't see the value in something or the importance of something, how on earth would we be motivated to actually do it? Mm-hmm. Right? And so you wanna think about it is like thinking about.

You wanna wrap your head around? I call it whiff 'em. What's in it for me? Right. I love that. Yeah. So you wanna think about, like from your child's perspective, what's in it for them? Like how does this benefit them? Mm-hmm. How does it benefit them to study? Right. And get good grades in eighth grade when the grades don't matter.

Mm-hmm. And so if you think about it, you[00:42:00]know, I, when you were talking, I'm like, okay, so what are thi what, what's in it for him that isn't about the grade? Right? Mm-hmm. And the first thing that came to my mind was like, study habits, right? Yeah. It's like talking to him about, listen, You're practicing right now.

You're practicing for what's gonna happen in high school and what's gonna happen in college and what's gonna happen when you get a job. And some of that are study habits. And so you wanna start practicing that now so that life isn't so hard for you later. Mm-hmm. They usually like that. They'll grab onto that.

Yeah. And if you wanna make your life easy, learn these ways of, learn these study habits now. Learn how to manage your time now. Mm-hmm. Learn how to juggle your friendships with getting schoolwork done. You know, when you start, as the parents start thinking about like what life skills. Can they work on right now in middle school[00:43:00]that's going to help them later?

Mm-hmm. Studying habits, life skills, those sorts of things. Right. So you could say like, yeah, I, I get what you're saying, but eighth grade is so much more. It's figuring out like, how do I juggle my friendships with my academics? And so, although it might be easy for you now, and you don't really see, you know, the value of like striving really hard to get the a, a lot of it's just creating these.

Um, you know, learning how to study so that when it is, does get more pressure and, and more is demanded of you later in life, you know how to handle it. Mm-hmm. And you can even give, like, you know, most middle schoolers are playing some sport of some sort, or they have at some point, you know, give an analogy like, you know, if you wanna be good at soccer, you gotta practice, practice, practice.

So you can make the goal. And that's really, you know, what middle school's for is like, it's. Practicing, right? Mm-hmm. Practicing, right? Your social skills, your[00:44:00]academic skills, your life skills so that you, you're not struggling when you get to high school. Right. One would be, that's what I would suggest.

Yeah. And actually it's funny cuz we, that's exactly what I ended up doing. I said, um, I was like, well, you need to learn how to study. Because what he was saying is the grades don't count until high school. So I said, well, what are you gonna start to learn how to study in like high school? Like, so this is your practice now so you can figure how to do it.

And then in high school when it does matter, you'll already know. Mm. And and he was, he he liked that for some reason. Yeah. See, but it had to, had to have a meaning. I didn't blame him, honestly. He, he just didn't have the why, just like you said, there was no reason for it. And so there's no reason, but he grasped onto like, oh, I know it's important at that point.

So yes, I need to learn how to study. I don't know how to study. Yeah. Mm-hmm. Yeah. No, I, I don't disagree with him either. I know. Me, neither really matter. It's hard. Yeah. It's really hard to be[00:45:00]like, yeah. When they just sit there and you're like, Uhhuh, you have a big point. Mm-hmm. And I don't know what to do with it, so I'm gonna take a pause and decrease my emotions before we answer that.

Exactly. I love it. That's so good. Yes. Okay. So you have a number five, right? That was four. Yes. Yes. So the whole point in these five steps is, you know, at the point of number five is inviting their solutions to the behavior that you are seeing as problematic or that you wish would change, right? And so we don't want you offering your solutions, cuz remember they.

They think you know nothing. They often don't want your opinion and just really, they have an overwhelming desire to figure it out themselves. And you want them to build problem solving skills, right? You, you want them to build their critical life skills and build this muscle in the[00:46:00]safety of your home.

Mm-hmm. With you now. Right. Let's get them building these skills because as we know, as adults, like as we get older, we get bigger problems. And so we need to cr you know, let them figure thing the smaller things out now while you are their safety net. So they have these skills when you know they head, you know, often the world into a job and they know how to speak to their supervisor or.

You know, they get, they get into college and they know how to solve for getting the classes that they need. Right. We need to help give them the opportunity to build these things now. Yeah. And so something you could say is just like, uh, I remember when I. My, so I had learned these skills by the time my third child came around.

And so I remember he got, um, in an accident and he came home and was talking about it.[00:47:00]And I did these five steps. And so my last, this step five was I said, oh, well, you know, what are you going to do? Or how do you wanna solve this? Right. And so getting his brain thinking like what he needed to do to move forward given that the car had been damaged.

Hmm. So we want their brain to do the work. It's, it's obvious to me. I knew exactly what to do when to get in a car accident. Right. But I want him, To figure it out with me there, you know, is this safety net so he knows how to solve for it if something like this happens again. Such important lessons that, I mean, I feel like that's such a key piece because you know, as parents we do wanna help our kids through things, but you know, my daughter once said to me, you know, as teens.

We actually can do more than you think we can. Mm-hmm. And I just thought that was such a huge statement,[00:48:00]because they can, and they're capable. And just like you're saying, if they don't learn it in the safety, uh, of the environment, they feel safe and secure in. Mm-hmm. Being out in the real world is gonna be very challenging if they can't figure out their own solutions, right?

Mm-hmm. Yeah. And what I, so I hear your daughter saying is like, She wants you to trust her, that she can figure it out. She wants you to believe in her. Mm-hmm. Right. And that's what these kids are craving. And when we jump in and we fix it or we do it for them, it sends the message that we don't think they're capable.

Mm-hmm. We don't believe they can do it. And that is exactly what erodes their confidence. And I'd say like one of the main things when people come to me is I want my child to be confident. What do I need to do? Mm-hmm. Right. And this is one of the things. And what you find is if they can't or they're really struggling, they will come and ask for help, which[00:49:00]is still another great tool for them to have to know when they can't, and they need help to ask for help.

Absolutely. Absolutely. And they, they feel like, you know, you're not going to be disappointed in them or shame them or judge them. They're going to come to you and ask you your opinion and your help. They absolutely will. Those are great. Five steps. I'm very excited about them. Which ones you like the most?

I, I think I, I like the, all of them, but I think the last one is huge for me. Okay. Um, because I feel like them being able to problem solve and figure it out would also make me feel better when they're on in the real world, like I know they can do it. Yeah, it does make you feel better. Like you, right? As you see them solving for things right in front of your eyes, that's what helps you feel confident that they're gonna be okay.

Mm-hmm. That's what helps you like[00:50:00]calm down and feel less worried when you see before your very eyes, oh, they actually came up with a pretty decent idea on how to solve for that. Right? And sometimes even better. Than I would. Mm. Yeah. That's always fun. You're like, huh. Yeah. Hadn't thought of that before.

Exactly. And they're like, oh, maybe I should give you some of my problem. Well, Lisa, I would just offer to your audience that the, the, probably the easiest thing for you to do is pick whichever of the five steps feels easiest. Mm-hmm. And, and start there and try that. Um, cuz obviously doing all five things all at once is pretty difficult, but pick any one of the five if you try any of those steps, even if it's out of order and you just try one and then notice the difference in the, you know, in how your child responds.

Mm-hmm. Yes. That's great advice.[00:51:00]Yeah. Cuz when you change. Anything, it's just inevitable that it's going to change the interaction. Yeah. They might be shocked at first set the questions you're not asking them or telling 'em to do so, yeah, so true. Yeah, they might, at first I'd be like, wait, what did you do with my mom?

Who are you? And where did my mom go? Why are you asking me that? Yeah. And these are also good. So where can listeners find you? Yeah. Um, well, let's see. If you just like, want, I, so lot tons of free stuff is on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. Um, on Instagram and Facebook, I’m at JeanineMouchawarcoaching, well, it's actually on TikTok too.

They're all three that, or you can go to my website, If you liked these five steps, I, uh, offer a free. Class where I go through these in detail that you can get through my website or I'm[00:52:00]happy if you want, Lisa, we can put a link and offer it to your listeners for free. Sure, yeah. I could put all that in the show notes.

Okay, great. Yeah. Mm-hmm. So any of those places, so is there anything else that you would like the listeners to know? Wow, we covered so many great things. Um, mm-hmm. I guess I just would want them to know, like if you're really feeling like scared and worried and frustrated, a lot of the time to, if you just try to engage with your teen from a place of just compassionate curiosity, just start there.

Take that one step and just notice. The difference. Notice how you're feeling. Um, because it, it is possible to have a relationship with your teen with less conflict and tension and butting heads and battles, um, where you can really feel like a bit of a weight is lifted off your shoulders[00:53:00]and you can breathe.

And so parenting just. You know, doesn't feel so hard anymore and you get some of that calm, peaceful home back that I know we all really want. And teens we also have to put out there cuz I happen to love my teens dearly. I, I never thought this phase would be, I. As amazing as it is, but what I really appreciate about having teens is like it's these young adults that I actually like, I actually do wanna hang out with.

I actually do wanna get to know because they are good people. And so I think that's so cool and such a great. Phase. I'm so glad you shared that, cuz I think that message to everybody lets them know like, hey, this is possible. Like you can enjoy these years. You can have a really, you know, great connection, um, with your teenagers and have fun.

And the great thing is when you do you like set up yourself for success for the decades to come.[00:54:00]Yes. And well, thank you. So much for sharing all your wisdom. Thank you. I feel like I have a bunch of new tools in my toolbox that I am gonna use when I need 'em. Good. Well, thank you for having me. It's been so fun talking to you, and you have such great parenting instincts yourself.

I'm sure listeners are learning a ton from you as well. Oh, well thank you. Well, you know, I have many years of experience cuz I have teens at this point. Yeah, there's nothing like on the job training. Right, exactly. So true. Thank you for listening to this episode. Jeanine has given us so many new tools we can use to communicate better with our teens.

Click on the link in the show notes for her free class that talks about five simple steps to have a better relationship with your teens. If you enjoy this episode, please share it with your family and friends. And we are always appreciative of your feedback. So take a moment and rate and review Real Life Momz on your favorite platform.[00:55:00] 

Jeanine MouchawarProfile Photo

Jeanine Mouchawar

Life Coach for Parents of Teens

eanine Mouchawar is a life coach for parents of teenagers. She helps make parenting easier by teaching new communication strategies that stop the battles and create a calm, peaceful home. Parents learn how to teach their teens cooperation, responsibility, and critical life skills to empower them for success. In the process, they create the positive, meaningful relationship they always imagined.

Jeanine earned her B.A. from Stanford University and is a certified professional life coach. She is married and has 3 adult children.