Each and every person has the right to be heard and be given opportunities to do so.
My parents were having a discussion the other day amongst themselves, but it was actually about me. They were talking as if I was not there and I really wanted to tell them what I thought. I tried to speak up a few times but they didn’t seem to be listening to what I had to say. I started to wonder if what I had to say mattered at all when it came to decisions my parents were making about me, and if there was a better way to voice them.
I found these really great tips to help me use my voice and advocate for myself. When I tried them with my parents they actually listened and asked me more questions about how I was feeling, to keep me involved.
- Take a deep breath
If you are upset or angry or annoyed it will come across in your voice and your emotions will speak louder than your words. This may cause your parents to say “don’t worry about it sweetie” when you do want to get involved and you have important things to say.
- Think about your body language
I found that sometimes when I was nervous to speak up I would turn away or fidget. This may have caused my parents to think that I was uncomfortable with the situation. In reality, though, I was just nervous to say my opinion in case they disagreed. I didn’t want to start a fight.
- Speak with purpose
You have something to say, so say it like it matters… because it does. Speak up so everyone can hear you, but don’t yell. And speak kindly. Consider the tone of your voice. This is where breathing comes in handy so that your voice is not shaky and you can give emphasis to the words and phrases that are most important for your message.
- Make solid points
Tell your parents how you feel and break down why exactly you want a decision to be made a certain way. “I want it” and “because” are not solid reasons. Tell them how it would change your life or make you feel and why you think it is the right decision.
- Nobody is wrong
Sometimes if they disagree with you it is easy to lose your cool and tell them that they are wrong. However, if you are able to relate to them and make statements like “I see your point. I feel it would be different because…” then they will also feel heard and see that you have thought it through.
- Don’t be scared!
Maybe you are worried that what you say will start a fight. Say it in a way that is not threatening or angry and it should develop into a conversation. Just remain calm and express your opinion politely but with purpose.
- Walk away
If you have said your piece and they still do not seem to be budging, walk away. Maybe they just need time to let it all sink in too. They are only human and if they are upset or overwhelmed it may just take some time for them to fully understand the points you made. Also walk away if you are feeling overwhelmed because you want to maintain the progress you have made and not start a fight. Come back to it later to show that it is important to you and you do want to be heard.
I am surprised how easy it was to get my parents to listen to my opinions. I am excited to see that what I had to say did actually matter. I think my parents were even happy to have another voice to help them make the decision. I can’t wait to try these tips out with my friends and teachers. Who knows what kind of changes I can make!