Three Words that Transform Parenting Big Kids for the Better

(Inside: These three powerful words transform parenting big kids in powerful ways. Better get to know your teen with this phrase.)

These three words are transformative in parenting.

I learned this phrase from a fiery, 5-foot-nothing high school teacher, her personality as strong as her bright red hair. I student-taught in her classroom, and this observation made a life-changing impact on me.

One of the teens came in hot to my cooperating teacher’s classroom, spewing accusatory words, borderline yelling at the teacher. In that moment, I felt like she had every right to tell him his actions were disrespectful and escort him to the dean.

But she didn’t…

Instead, she tilted her head, let a curious expression cross her face, and leaned in.

“Tell me more,” she invited with heart and gentleness.

I saw this teen’s whole body relax like air being let out of a balloon. His demeanor changed, his voice softened, and he rewound his thoughts to explain the whole situation.

Then, I watched them work together to solve the problem and talk about how better to approach someone when upset next time.

“Tell me more.”

Three powerful words.

transform parenting big kids
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They are a comfort to our kids. The phrase reminds them we’re on their side, want to know their opinions, and hear their explanations.

“You didn’t complete your homework? You have ten missing assignments? Tell me more about that.”
“You broke curfew again? Tell me more about why.”
“You want to go this place with that person? Tell me more.”

I want to know your thoughts.

I want to hear your why.

I am trying to understand because I’m for you. Always, always, always on your side.

And then once we’ve reminded our kids that their voices matter, we can together figure out what to do next.

What’s wise in this situation?
What keeps you safe?
What next step is healthy?
What’s best for you as a whole person?

And sometimes, that means your teens take the lead in determining direction. Other times, it’s a firm boundary line by parents, something that also makes teens feel protected, even if they don’t instantly say so. Every kid needs someone watching out for their best interest with kindness, nourishment, and firmness in those things that pound in parents’ hearts that a “no” is absolutely needed.

“Tell me more.”

I use these three powerful words in my high school classroom daily.

And with raising my house full of middle and high schoolers.

“Tell me more.”

Every parent has a pulse on the energy in their own home and a gut that whispers what’s right for their people. Moms and dads, maybe these three words won’t work for you. Or maybe, like me, you’ll find these three words…

Transformative in your relationships with your big kids.
transform parenting big kids
One of my favorite ways to connect with my family is to go out to eat and while we wait for the food, go discuss one or two of these conversation starters.

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Your brain bounces between your day at work, what time(s) your kids need to be at practice, your teen’s missing school assignments, that you haven’t called your mom lately, the load of the laundry to be switched, “What’s for dinner?” and “Why are 3 of my brain-tabs frozen?” 

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