Ep 2: Getting Yourself in the Right Space

J. Brown, host of the "Yoga Talks" podcast, blogger, and founder of his own yoga studio talks about how parents can get themselves into a more open, receptive state before jumping into an important conversation with a teenager. These tactics are sure to improve your next conversation.

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Full show notes

Put Aside your Troubles

It’s hard to be non-judgmental with a teenager. You can’t fake it. As much as you might try to hide it, teens pick up on it. And when they do, they can shut down, tune you out, or get defensive.

If you’re intimately familiar with the rage that comes from a teen tuning you out, you’ve probably wondered how to talk so teens will listen. This is a great question! It is inevitable that your teen is going to say or do something that you’re not prepared for. So how do you deal with the unexpected without overreacting?

To discuss how to talk so teens will listen, I spent some quality time with J. Brown. J is a world-renowned yoga and meditation teacher with a popular blog and a highly successful podcast called “Yoga Talks.” For over 15 years, J has been helping parents practice getting into calmer states of mind before talking to their kids. Oh, and he has two daughters, so he’s not just making any of these techniques up!

Adjusting Your State of Mind

J says non-judgmentalness comes from an internal state of mind. And there are plenty of factors that influence this. For example, he points out that judges are far more likely to grant probation right after they’ve eaten, rather than right before lunch. Sure, it may be a judge’s job to judge, but as a parent trying to learn how to talk so teens will listen, it’s important to note what affects your mood.

If you’re in a bad mood, that colors your perception of the moment, and the way you treat your teen will reflect that. If you’re in a bad state of mind, you won’t be able to hide your judgmentalness, and you won’t know how to talk so teens will listen. What you can do is be mindful of your mental state before engaging in conversation.

In order to correct your state of mind, you need to set aside some time to properly process the situation. First, make time to listen to your teen and put your own pressing matters on hold. Of course your pressing matters are important, but they do affect your state of mind. If your mind is reeling over a heavy workload while you’re trying to talk to your teen, your teen will pick up on your stress and hurry. If the teen senses that you’re preoccupied, they might feel like a second priority to you—which is not how to talk so teens will listen.

After earmarking time for your teen, you can schedule ten minutes of “me-time” to set aside your pressing issues. Ten minutes in silence and solitude can have a massive effect on your mood right before a talk. Couple that with some breathing and moving exercises, and your teen will notice the difference. This may also help you brush off your pressing issues and see that they’re not a big deal.

Your teen knows you in ways other adults probably don’t. Teens know how to press your buttons. They know when you are listening and when you’re just reacting. It will be clear that you know how to talk so teens will listen when you can listen yourself without reacting to the jabs your teen might throw at you.

Balance, and Learning How to Fall

But what do you do when a conversation happens that you’re not prepared for? J has a solution.

Teens will always catch you off guard. It’s inevitable that they will find you and encounter you while you’re in a bad mood. This happens to all parents. If you’ve been learning how to talk so teens will listen, these surprise moments of tension might seem like huge obstacles. But, J insists that they’re not.

You always have a choice. This is a very specific lesson J teaches in every yoga class he gives. It’s most specific form is in the “tree pose,” where you stand balanced on one leg. The common notion is that standing on one leg and not falling over equates to being a more balanced person in life. But this is just not the case for most people!

J meets tons of people who can stand on one leg and not fall over, but their lives are in disarray! Conversely, there are loads of people who can’t manage this pose for the life of them, but their lives are fine. Clearly, the physicality isn’t the indicator. The indicator for J is:

“What happens in the moment when you fall over, and how much say do you have in that moment?”

Though this may sound like a Jedi proverb, J shares this aphorism to inform parents on how to talk so teens will listen: You can train yourself to have a choice in how you react to disruption.

For example, J asks people who lose balance in his class to smile or chuckle about falling over. The idea is to be able to assert something in that moment. The immediate reaction is usually frustration, and that can plant a negative idea in your mind. Choosing to react to the frustration with a smile or laugh instead begins to slowly train your mind that frustration doesn’t have to immediately impact your mood. You can channel it into a positive response.

In life, to be in tree pose is not to be balanced all the time, but to have space to choose how you’re going to respond if you fall. The ultimate trick to learning how to talk so teens will listen is to notice when you are having a reaction and to create a space to safely catch yourself from falling.

Ask yourself, what is your default reaction to frustration? If you can train your default reaction to be a pause, you’ll be able to sustain a much more friction-free connection with your teen. Remember, don’t avoid surprises or ignore pressing issues. Instead, learn how to adapt to them in a way that doesn’t project anger or frustration onto your teen. Knowing how to talk so teens will listen means that you must always have the room to adjust your reactions.

There are lots of ways to craft a space in your head for processing your frustrations in order to better communicate with your teen. J has an endless stream of wisdom on this along with many other subjects. In this interview J discusses how to talk so teens will listen, along with other topics like...
  • How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can work for parents

  • Specific breathing and moving exercises to do before discussions

  • How Doing yoga with your kids can strengthen bonds

  • Moderating self-judgment

  • Pros and cons of “fake it till you make it”

  • The difference between learning a process, as opposed to a strategy

  • The value of shared experiences and shared goals

  • Acknowledging your own screen addictions
J’s kindness and encouragement is infectious. He has so much to teach parents and teens alike. I certainly enjoyed hearing him discuss the wisdom behind yoga, and how it applies to raising teens and creating a better bond with them. Learning how to talk so teens will listen is definitely not easy, but J has some amazing insight to make it less challenging for parents. Take a listen to this enlightening interview with J. Brown!

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Creators and Guests

Andy Earle
Andy Earle
Host of the Talking to Teens Podcast and founder of Write It Great
Ep 2: Getting Yourself in the Right Space
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