The First Days

Start a Family Instant-Replay Plan every time your kid says something fresh: stop, call a time-out, and help him find a more appropriate and respectful way of expressing what's on his mind. In the heat of the moment, he may not realize the hurtful impact of his fresh attitude even though what he's trying to say may be an honest attempt to express his feelings, concerns, or problems. For example, when he says, "You're clueless," he may be really trying to tell you that because you're of a different generation, you don't know what it's like to be in his shoes when dealing with the stresses and pressures of teachers and peers—for example:

Mom: You called me "clueless," and that really hurts.

Can you say that again politely? Kid: Well, um, you don't know what you're talking about.

Mom: Try that again. What exactly happened to you that I don't know?

Kid: Lauren sent an instant message to her class buddy list that I'm a wimp.These days stuff like that can get around so quickly.

Mom: Okay, now I understand why you're so upset. So can you replay that part about me being clueless?

Kid: Mom, you wouldn't understand unless you learned to use the computer.

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