Ep 45: Troublesome Teenage Boys
Bill Beausay, the author of 20 books including Teenage Boys! and True Greatness, talks about how to build a strong and deep connection with a tough teenager and what you can do to challenge teens to step up and handle their own problems. He also reveals how to teach manners to teens.
Full Show Notes
Teenage boys can be tough to deal with. They are disrespectful and lazy and they don’t show gratitude or treat adults with courtesy. It’s a tough set of attributes for parents to handle! But Bill Beausay says he always found teenagers very easy to work with. His doctoral work was in educational psychology, but he says many of his best techniques are based on intuition and experience from the many years he spent working as a family therapist.
“Inside, I still feel like I’m just a really big boy,” he told me. It is this inner youthfulness that helps him to understand and connect with tough teenagers. And it’s also what has made his books so successful. Bill has written 20 books including Teenage Boys!, True Greatness, Beating Teacher Burnout, and Dream It & Go!, among many others.
During our interview, Bill talked about how to redirect your teenager when you see them doing something that isn’t going to work. He says you need to build a strong and deep connection with your teen before you can offer this kind of advice. The key is to find opportunities to get your teen talking about things they are afraid of and to open up to them about your own fears and mistakes. When you reveal something vulnerable to a teenager it’s like you suddenly become real to them and you become someone they can talk to.
Bill has some helpful strategies and scripts for exactly what you can say and do to create these kinds of moments with your teen.
Another thing we talked about is what to do when your teen doesn’t want to do their chores or pitch in around the house. Bill uses a very simple but powerful approach called “you’ll be sorry”. During our interview he walked through exactly how to do it. The key is not to force your teen to comply with your demands, but to remind them that if they don’t do what you are asking there will be consequences later. Then you simply wait for the next time your teen needs something from you and remind them that they refused to help you last time you needed something from them.
Of course, you don’t just want your teen to treat you with respect, you want them to treat all adults the same way. The ability to impress adults and connect with them meaningfully is one of the most important qualities that will help teens succeed in life. But good luck convincing your teenager to start showing an interest in adults an acting courteous toward them.
Bill has some simple but brilliant tips for how to get your teens talking to adults in a deeper way. It involves training your teen to start seeing every adult they meet as someone who can potentially help them out in life. He told me exactly what to say to your teen to make this happen in this episode.
The final piece of wisdom Bill revealed during our interview was about how to get your teen motivated and interested in life. He told me about the goal-setting exercises that he participated in with his own teenagers and exactly what he said to them to get them thinking about their future. The key is to remind teens that they don’t need to have a fully-formed vision of their future before they can get started. In fact, nobody has a fully-formed vision of their future! What’s important is just to pick something that interests them right now and get started. It’s easy to change your mind later.
This episode has scripts and exercises from Bill for implementing these strategies with your teenager.
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Word-for-word examples of WHAT to say to your teen
1. Say something vulnerable so your teen will feel comfortable talking to you:
“Does Anything out there make you afraid? Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night just terrified something is going to happen? What is it? I woke up at 4AM the other day and I couldn’t go back to sleep because I was afraid I was going to lose my business and go broke.”
2. When your teen is stubbornly using the wrong strategy and not making progress:
3. Get a teenager talking about something real:
4. When your teen doesn’t want to clean out the garage:
5. When your teen wants something from you but they haven’t done their chores:
6. What to say when your teen calls you mean:
7. How to teach manners to your teenager:
8. Train your teen to see adults as an opportunity:
9. Challenge your teen to handle their own problems:
Step-by-step guides for applying the ideas from this interview
1. Tell Your Teen Something Jaw-Dropping to Make Yourself Real:
Bill is an expert on handling troublesome teenage boys and during our interview he recommended me a strategy to connect with teens and get them to open up. Teenagers are not used to having adults be really honest with them and reveal their own weaknesses. So when you say something vulnerable and a little “jaw-dropping”, it gets your teen’s attention and makes them see you as someone “real” who they can talk to. The way to find these jaw droppers, Bill told me, is to think about what the “turning point” stories were in your past. What happened in your life that was so bad or so sudden or so jarring that it changed the way you looked at the world? When you share these stories with teens they listen carefully. Grab a piece of paper and sketch out three turning point stories from your own life. Start with a one-sentence summary of what happened. Next, Joy down how the experience changed your view of the world or of yourself. Finally, write down a time this week when you can tell this story to your teenager.
2. Get Your Teen Talking About Their Fears:
3. Use the 1% Overlap Principle:
4. Change the Medium of Communication:
5. Join in with Your Teen to Build a Deeper Connection:
About Bill Beausay
The former Director of Research and Development at the Academy of Sports Psychology, Bill Beausay has written 20 books including 3 national best sellers, with combined worldwide circulation over 1 million copies. He is the creator of MindRev™ Labs and Design Life Training. Bill did his Doctoral work at the University of Toledo and spent 10 years in a professional clinical practice before becoming a writer and international speaker on how to do more, make more, and be more. He has spoken for dozens of Fortune 500 firms and has been featured on radio, newspapers, television, and magazines coast-to-coast. Bill is a pilot, scuba diver, skier, adventurer, and grandfather of 9.