Best of the Web: How to have difficult conversations with your teen, and more

Navigating tricky conversations with your teenager, why it's okay for kids to play with their food, and how 'conscious' parenting can create a stronger bond with your child.

Our selection of thought-provoking and useful resources from around the web on educating and raising children, and supporting families.

How to navigate difficult conversations with your teenager

(Netta Wienstein, The Conversation)

One of the biggest parenting challenges is having important conversations with teenagers, writes the author. ‘They can feel like walking a tightrope. Lean too much – or too little – into commands and restrictions and you’re likely to tip over,’ she notes. 

As part of her preparation for the article, the author asked her daughter for advice. Her daughter responded with a few telling insights: teens get frustrated if you don’t listen properly, or say one thing and do another.

‘Think about what you say long before you say it to a teen.’

Her advice was right on the mark, aligning with research findings.

The author provides some excellent ideas on how to approach teen conversations, including why you need to ‘listen with love’ and consider your tone of voice.

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Why it's okay for kids to play with their food

(Kellie Scott, ABC Everyday)

It’s a familiar parental chorus around the dinner table: ‘Stop playing with your food!’

While it might be an instruction that’s been heard through the generations, in most cases it’s the wrong approach, this article reports. In many cases. letting children play with their food helps explore and get to know what they are eating.

What about telling children to eat a certain amount  – ‘the just two more bites’ approach? Again, this can work against developing positive attitudes to eating.

‘What we really want kids to be able to do as they grow into older children and adults is listen to their body and eat as much as they need to be full,’ says paediatric dietitian Dr Kyla Smith. ‘To try certain foods when they’re ready.’

There is also the power of modelling eating habits. Parents should keep calm and eat their own vegetables. ‘Children will copy and you don’t have to do anything.’

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Want to create a stronger bond with your kids? First relinquish control

(Andee Tagle, npr)

Do you feel like you want to have a greater sense of being in charge as a parent? The counterintuitive answer, according to the author of a new book, is to stop trying to control your child.

This is an interview with New York Times bestselling author Shefali Tsabary, who has just released The Parenting Map. in which she explains how to develop a ‘conscious’ parent-child relationships by focusing on the reactions you have to your child’s behaviour rather than the behaviour itself.

‘We keep expecting the child to change and keep trying to micromanage the child,’ says Shefali.

‘All the while, we never look at ourselves. And most of the time, it’s only 10 percent what the child is doing and 90 percent what the parent is doing.’

She cautions that conscious parenting doesn’t come naturally – it’s easier to yell at kids, rather than being patient and regulated.

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