“He has been on the phone all the time. When he returns from school, he will be checking his phone. When he goes to his room, he will be playing with his handphone. Whenever I talk to him about any important issue, we always end up arguing. I care for him but he is not listening to me.” 

Does this sound familiar?

We know that parents care very much for their child. We are very likely to dispense information and our life experiences to our teens but more often than not, they do not accept our words.

We nag and we scold because we care. I just don’t know how to reach out to them.

I am too angry to talk positively. What can I do?

Try sending a text.

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According to Nielsen, teenagers spend a lot of time texting, receiving an average of 3,417 texts a month, or 114 per day.

A new study from the University of Arizona found that teens, aged 12-18, who receive educational information about nutrition and physical activity were generally receptive. However, there is a catch.

Teens didn’t like to be told what to do. It was necessary to word the text messages appropriately. The study found that phrases like “you should,” “always” and “never” were poorly received, while softer words like “try” and “consider” were much better received.

When texts started with “did you know”, the teenagers refused to continue reading the messages.

Interestingly, teens liked specific titles which refer to their age group such as  “Girls aged 12-19 years old drink an average of 650 cans of coke a year!”

What Does this Mean to Parents

Simply put, consider reaching out to your teen via text messaging can be an extremely effective way as it gives parents time to consider the appropriate words to use in the message before hitting the ‘send’ button.

Many times, we use negative or stressful words when we are upset with our children and we do so from a top-down approach. In fact, I daresay that most of the time, our words actually come out before our brains can process how to word it more appropriately for our children to accept. When the receiving of constant negative words becomes a daily ritual, children will naturally seek an outlet to counter this. Some will become defiant while others turn to computer and handphone addictions.  Somehow, it becomes a defence mechanism.

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Some parents may not fully understand the consequences of using negative words constantly. Let’s put this in perspective: if one is to  go to work and the boss constantly hounds him/her on the quality of work, how may one feel? How does it feel  for a day? It doesn’t feel good, right? Now, imagine it as a daily ritual.

That’s what your child may be going through – without you realising. If you find that you are unable to reach out to your child, try text messaging a text which is worded appropriately and share with me your results.