Fighting for Yourself Without Yelling Back
Updated: Apr 1, 2019
You feel like your parents never listen to you. You are sure that if they would listen to your side of the story that they would understand. So you talk louder to be heard, but you are “yelling”; you try to make them see your point, but you are “talking back”.
It’s like you can’t win. But maybe you can. Maybe there is a way that you can fight for yourself.
The key is posture.
When you feel like a consequence is unfair or unjust, you switch to a defensive posture. You cross your arms, you sigh loudly, you roll your eyes and maybe even pop your hip out to communicate “this is ridiculous”. But your parents don’t see this as a protest against injustice, they see “ATTITUDE”. You have already lost.
First, change your posture so they don’t shut you down: try to keep your arms relaxed at your sides, make eye contact that shows you are listening, wait for them to finish their sentence (even if its a full lecture).
The key is approach.
Now it is your turn, but if you start by snapping back “you don’t know what you are talking about” then you will be grounded and you will lose your chance. As hard as this is, ask for a chance to speak to share your perspective: “Can I tell you what really happened?”, “I think there is something else you should know”, “before you decide my punishment, can I tell you something?”, etc.
The key is how you say it.
Watch your tone of voice and your volume! Avoid words and phrases that you know will push their buttons: “you always assume the worst of me”, “you never…”, “you are so unfair”. Instead, try explaining your side of thing like you would explain it to a friend: stay calm, speak slowly, and use respectful language.
Talk to your parents about how you are trying to change.
You can even try telling your parents ahead of time that you know you have to do a better job of responding when you are in trouble. Tell them that you are working on not giving attitude and being more respectful. They just might be more willing to listen when they know you are trying.
If you need more help, you can find more tips for communicating with parents. Or, try finding a positive adult in your life, like a teacher, coach or counselor who can help you practice. With a little trial and error, you can escape the talking-back to grounding cycle!