The ten-sec­ond rule

Pick your bat­tles wisely and keep re­quests short and sim­ple .


IF you want the end re­sult – that is, socks picked up and the dish­washer un­packed – then this is my ad­vice. Pick your bat­tle care­fully and then keep your re­quests short and sim­ple. Let me ex­plain.

The rea­son why your teen isn’t lis­ten­ing could sim­ply be that you are using too many words. Par­ents often think that using more words will give them a higher chance of their re­quest be­ing heard. Un­for­tu­nately not. If you con­verse for longer than 10 sec­onds with a teenager, chances are the stakes will swing in their favour.

When too many words are ex­changed, par­ents often get dragged into long-winded de­bates with their chil­dren. By ex­plain­ing the why and why nots of their re­quests, they give their teens am­mu­ni­tion to ar­gue and ma­nip­u­late with. In turn, par­ents get worn down and give in. Mums, this is es­pe­cially true when it comes to us! We tend to overtalk and at­tach way too much emo­tion to our words.

One thing that rail­roads par­ents’ re­quests ev­ery time is when they talk to their teenager about their personal needs and feel­ings. They might say to their teen “I need you to un­der­stand how much this is af­fect­ing me” or “You need to know how tired I am right now”. This is a BIG mis­take. Teenagers barely un­der­stand that their par­ents have feel­ings, let alone care about those feel­ings. They also smell their par­ents’ fear, and have been known to use it against them. Harsh but true!

Let me give you some 10-sec­ond ex­am­ples …

Say: I need you to put that phone down and have a shower. It’s time to get ready for bed.

Stop talk­ing.

Say: In the next ad break, go and pack your lunch and get your uni­form ready.

No more words.

If you are a par­ent read­ing this, you are now ask­ing me, “What do I do when they don’t move?” If you ask your teen to do some­thing and you don’t get a re­sponse, po­litely ask one more time. Every­one de­serves a sec­ond chance. If you still don’t get a re­sponse, don’t keep ask­ing. That will only make you look desperate. Talk less and do more.

Think of it like this. If the po­lice sim­ply asked peo­ple to stop speed­ing, I highly doubt they would get re­sults. That is what speed­ing fines are for. Is­su­ing the right kind of con­se­quence, in the right way, will help mo­ti­vate a teen in the right di­rec­tion. It will also save you hours of rant­ing, ex­plain­ing and overtalk­ing with no re­sults.

Th­ese tips will help par­ents get the socks picked up a bit quicker this week!

Tip 1: Find the right bar­gain­ing tool Find­ing the right con­se­quence is crit­i­cal, but far more dif­fi­cult than it looks. A con­se­quence must make your teenager stop and take note, quickly, with­out be­ing over the

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