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ParentingYour Teenager: Dont Buy the I Dont Know and I Dont Care Attitude

"I don't know and I don't care."

I've heard those words more than a few times in my office. Sometimes I think "I don't know and I don't care" is the universal teen tribal motto.

So what to do?

I remember working with one kid who said absolutely nothing in the first session but "I don't know and I don't care" at least 10 times each.

So just before he came for his next session, I wrote "I don't know" on one side of a sheet of paper and "I don't care" on the other side. I then taped the piece of paper to the couch I thought he was most likely to sit on.

In comes the kid, cracks up laughing, tapes the paper to his shirt, and then begins to talk for the rest of the meeting.

3 Keys for How to Respond

I tell you the above story because it offers three keys on how to respond to "I don't know and I don't care."

1) Don't buy into what they are saying. It's just a way to try to get you to back off, and/or to see if you care enough to pursue them.

2) You simply must keep your sense of humor. Get hooked and get angry and you are dead in the water.

3) Do something different or unexpected. As parents we can become predictable.

If I can get parents to respond in ways that put a confused look on the face of a teen, I know we are getting somewhere.

A Fun Response

The next time you hear the words "I don't know" respond this way:

"Well, you know what, at your age it's OK not to know a whole lot. But if you did know, what would it be?"

I use this in my office all the time. Nine out of 10 times, the kid will answer and start talking.

One time out of 10 times a teen will respond with

"You are just asking the same question in a different way."

To which I respond

"You know what, you are right! And you have also just shown me how very bright you are, so quit playing dumb and answer the question."

In the face of the universal teen motto, remember:

Don't buy it, keep your sense of humor and don't get hooked.

Respond creatively and differently.

Visit ParentingYourTeenager.com to subscribe to Jeff Herring's free internet newsletter "Parenting Your Teenager" and the free 5 day e-program on the "5 Things to Avoid Saying to Your Teenager."

In The News:

Elderly South Koreans to reunite with relatives in North
Mon, 20 Aug 2018 02:15:00 +0100
Dozens of elderly South Koreans have travelled to the border with the North to reunite with relatives they were separated from during the Korean War.

Afghanistan proposes ceasefire with Taliban
Sun, 19 Aug 2018 21:22:00 +0100
A ceasefire is due to begin in Afghanistan on Monday and will "continue as long as the Taliban preserves and respects it", President Ashraf Ghani has said.

Indonesian holiday island struck by second quake
Sun, 19 Aug 2018 16:07:00 +0100
A 6.9-magnitude earthquake has hit the Indonesian island of Lombok - hours after a 6.3 tremor struck the tourist destination.

Disease outbreaks feared in Kerala flood camps
Sat, 18 Aug 2018 20:48:00 +0100
Aid workers have said they fear outbreaks of disease as thousands of people remain stranded after Kerala's worst flooding in a century.

Italy pledges infrastructure boost after bridge disaster
Sun, 19 Aug 2018 13:03:00 +0100
Italy will launch a national plan to make motorways, bridges and schools safe following the collapse of the Morandi bridge in Genoa, the government said.



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