5 Ways To Communicate With Your Teen

You know the stereotype of the uncommunicative teenager.

The indifferent look, the rolled eyes, earbuds firmly in place, off in their own little world while mom and dad try desperately to find a way in.

It’s not impossible to communicate with your teen. There are five guaranteed methods for getting through to them.

And by guaranteed, I mean they work for me.

Sometimes. Most of the time. Hey, they’re better than nothing.

1. Texting

This is what I do if I really want my teens’ attention. I can call and yell and pound on walls, but that pretty much guarantees I’ll be ignored.

A text, however, gets results.

Texting is a language teens understand and respond to in a positive way.

Like a cat comes running to the sound of a can opener, or a dog bounds happily your way when you blow a dog whistle.

I’ll text my kids when they’re sitting right next to me, because I know the message will get through to them in an efficient manner.

If they’re in another part of the house, a text saves me from having to shout up the stairs or down the hallway.

Why waste my energy yelling?

2. Yelling

Seriously, sometimes you just have to yell and scream.

They’re teenagers, after all. There are times when they just don’t understand anything else.

A little bit of shock and awe can have an impact.

You have to use this sparingly, however, because teens are highly adaptable. After awhile, they will tune out even the most hysterical ravings, and you will be left with no other option than to combine your screaming with some sort of emergency medical event, such as a heart attack or stroke.

That can get their attention, but I don’t recommend it. It’s hard to continue a conversation with your teen over the sound of the wailing ambulance.

So, go easy on the yelling.

3. Sticky Notes

Sticky notes can be tricky. You can never be 100% sure that your teen has read your message, so you have to move it around to various places in the house.

Start off with the bathroom mirror. This is the first place most teens look in the morning. If they are having a particularly harsh wakeup, a note on the mirror will either be too fuzzy to see or ignored completely.

A second sticky note can be placed on the refrigerator door or, better yet, directly on the milk/orange juice carton.

A third option might be on the side window of the car in which you drive them around, as teens love to stare out the window, thinking their angsty teen thoughts.

You have to put the sticky note somewhere where they will see it, but not be annoyed by it. That rules out putting it on their phone, backpack, makeup, body, or any other highly personal space or item.

Do NOT put it on yourself, because teens hate looking at their parents.

4. Song Lyrics

This technique requires extensive homework on your part.

First, you’ll have to sneak a good, long peek at your teen’s music collection. Write down those band names. My Chemical Romance, The Used, Fall Out Boy, Taylor Swift, Weird Al. Get them all.

Second, start your research at songlyrics.com or a similar site. Memorize key lines from your teen’s favorite songs.

Third, quote those lyrics at the dinner table, in the car, or during a game of catch!

This may confuse and frighten your teen, but you will have their attention.

5. Hugging

Sometimes you don’t need words.

If you really want to effectively communicate with your teen, give them a hug.

It’s what they really want from you, anyway. And that one hug can speak volumes between a parent and child.

So much so, that it’s almost like minds can be read during even the briefest of embraces.

But I guarantee you that to effectively communicate with your teen in a meaningful and desirable way, a simple hug will crumble any wall of moody teenage indifference.

Once your teen is open to hear what you have to say, you can simply talk, one-to-one, in a mature, loving, and respectful manner.

Be warned, however. You’ll have to talk fast! This happy effect wears off in anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes, depending on your teen’s age and the topic of conversation.

Have fun, and enjoy communicating with your teenagers!

The Prize Inside

General Mills Cereals

When I was a kid, and my mom would let me pick out a breakfast cereal at the store, my loyalty to one brand or another was usually trumped by something else.

The prize inside the box!

That was some powerful marketing, because I remember trying out new cereals just because of the cool prize that was promised.

I always dug that thing out of the box with the first breakfast. You never just waited for it to come out on its own.

The lure of the prize is still strong. Just last year, I bought some brand I didn’t care about simply to get at the free Star Wars pen they were offering.

General Mills has been putting free prizes in cereal boxes for more than 80 years. They make such favorites as Lucky Charms, Trix, Honey Nut Cheerios, Cocoa Puffs, and Golden Grahams.

Now, General Mills has teamed up with Mega Bloks to offer four very cool customizable cars featuring Power Rangers and Hello Kitty!

Mega Bloks Cars

Oh yeah, I can just imagine the 7-year-old me clawing through those Cocoa Puffs for one of these awesome cars.

General Mills wants to super-charge your kids’ creativity and imagination. Each cereal box comes with instructions to make a Mega Jump out of the box by cutting out a pattern to construct a cardboard ramp.

Your kids can do more than that, if they follow the lead of Mark Frauenfelder, editor-in-chief of Make Magazine. He and his daughter made a large multi-story Rube Goldberg contraption in their house, constructed entirely out of General Mills Mega Bloks cereal boxes (see the video below).

“General Mills putting a free, buildable Mega Bloks car in its cereal boxes is a nostalgic experience for me and one I love to share with my daughters,” said Frauenfelder. “Building an elaborate structure like this shows that it’s okay to fail, just try again! These kinds of challenges will stretch your mental muscles, and are also a great way to give your kids an introduction to real-life challenges.”

I’m very excited that General Mills is offering an amazing giveaway to one of Idaho Dad’s readers. It not only includes a sampling of their popular breakfast cereals and the Mega Bloks customizable cars, but also a $50 Target gift card!


To win the cereal, cars, and gift card, simply leave a comment here on the blog. Tell me about the best prize you ever pulled out of a box of cereal.

For an extra chance to win, go to the Idaho Dad Facebook page and “like” the General Mills contest post there. If you haven’t already clicked like on the Idaho Dad page itself, go ahead and do that while you’re there.

I’ll pick a winner after next weekend. In the meantime, go enjoy a nice bowl of cereal.

You Little Punk! SOL REPUBLIC Review & Giveaway

It’s that time of the year. Only a few more weeks until Black Friday and the start of the holiday shopping season. Coming up with good gift ideas for friends and family isn’t always easy. Well, I’m here to help!

Sol Republic products have a great reputation in our house, so when they sent me a Punk, one of their new wireless speakers, to review as a holiday gift idea, I knew it would be good.

Sol Republic Punk

It’s better.

They could’ve called it Puck. It’s about the size of one, and feels durable enough to bat around with a hockey stick.

The little Punk fits in the palm of my hand, measuring in at 3.5 by 3.5 x 1.5 inches. The top and bottom are a hard plastic, while the sides are covered in a tough rubber material that gives the speaker it’s durability. Although, I was just kidding about playing hockey with it.

More importantly, the sound coming out of the Punk is amazing for its price and size.

The volume can be cranked up enough to be heard all over the house. The sound is clear and crisp, but my wife says the bass is lacking for her taste. I’ve been listening to it mostly in my office, at mid-level volume, and I think the bass is fine for such a small speaker.

Other than it’s size and sound, here’s what else I like about the Sol Republic Punk:

    1. The bottom panel features a standard 1/4-inch mount for tripods and clamps. I attached the Punk to my Joby Gorillapod (see photo below), and I can just imagine wrapping this on a tree branch while I lounge in a hammock or pull weeds in the yard next spring.

    2. Bluetooth pairing was effortless on both my iPhone and laptop. I like it when I don’t have to fiddle with settings to make Bluetooth work.

    3. Controls are intuitive. No instruction manuals for me! All the controls are on one side panel. Power, volume, battery check, pause/play, bluetooth. Nice and neat. Hidden away behind a little flap on another side panel are connectors for USB, aux input, and aux output.

    4. The Punk just seems cool. This is what kids are going to like. The speaker is stylish, durable, small enough to slip into a coat pocket, and has a great sound. It comes in blue, red, and black.

    Sol Republic Punk with Joby Gorillapod5. The Punk is waterproof! Not that I’m going to dunk it in the lake, but I will enjoy bringing this on a hike or campout and not having to worry about getting it wet.

    6. Battery life: About 8 hours on a single charge.

    7. The Punk sells for $69.99, and you can find it at Best Buy, ready to ship for the holidays. Seriously, just put this at the top of your shopping list for any music lovers in your life, young or old. I promise they’re going to love it.

Okay, now that I’ve sold you on the Sol Republic Punk as an awesome low-price big-sound wireless speaker, it’s time to give one away. Yes, the good folks at Sol Republic want one of my readers to win a Punk!

You have three chances to enter my giveaway:

    1. Leave a comment here on the blog. Tell me your favorite part of the winter holidays.
    2. Visit the Idaho Dad Facebook page. Click “Like” on the Punk Giveaway post and at least one other post. Don’t forget to like the Idaho Dad page itself if you haven’t already.
    3. If you’re on Twitter, copy/paste the following message: Enter to win a @SOLREPUBLIC PUNK Wireless Speaker from Idaho Dad blog http://pkmeco.com/familyblog/2014/11/punk-giveaway/ @NorthIdahoDad

Enter once, twice, or three times if you want. The contest ends in a week. Good luck!

Somewhere In My Memory

Alnwick Castle Memories

Try to remember what you had for dinner on the 16th of July this past summer.

Now try to remember what you were doing on the afternoon of June 5, 2012.


If you can recall the details of those days, you must keep a daily diary, or you have a photographic memory. Or, maybe you looked it up on Facebook just now.

Most likely, you were traveling.

That’s where my most vivid experiences get burned into long term memory.

Stepping outside of the routine of home, job, and school, to travel to new places, to experience things outside of one’s comfort zone, and to dare yourself to face the fear of the unknown. Well, that’s just the stuff to make a lifetime memory.

Oh, and to do it with your kids is even better.

We’ve traveled as a family from the very beginning. My kids haven’t seen the whole wide world, but they’ve had a taste. They’ve beachcombed on the Thames in London, hiked up to Delicate Arch in Utah, geocached on the Olympic Peninsula, walked the Hadrian’s Wall Path in England, and explored the Props Department at Universal Studios.

And made four trips to Disneyland. Just because I love the place.

The point is, these memories we’ve made together are vibrant and fixed, a wholly different kind of animal from the memories of home and school and life in general. They’re all good, just different.

The everyday memories are a wonderful blur of activity and growing and pain and laughter.

The travel memories are points in time, set in the stone of our consciousness. They are like a precious photograph on the wall that brings a little smile as you pass by.

I could not tell you about the many hundreds of walks through our neighborhood we’ve made over the past ten years, but I can describe in great detail the harried stroll we took in May of 2011 through the streets of Alnwick, a village in the northeast of England, after getting off the bus at the wrong stop. It was a walk to remember, at times both frustrating and exhilarating.

I would also have trouble recalling any particular thunderstorm that has rocked our house in recent years, but my family all vividly remember one that hit us as we walked the streets of Butte, Montana, back in 2007. We still talk about getting stuck outside the mineral museum at Montana Tech as the hail pounded down around us.

There wasn’t anything special about that storm, or the walk through Alnwick, other than we were travelers. Strangers in a strange land. Seeing the world around us like babies, taking it all in with wide eyes and wondering awe.

If you haven’t set out on a journey with your kids in awhile, start planning one. Make it someplace you’ve never been. Get passports and hop a plane. Or just drive to the next state and see something new.

Travel is more than just seeing new things. It’s a way to make memories that will inspire and educate. Your kids will change in the most wonderful ways once they’ve stepped away from their daily routine. As parents, you’ll get to share in that change because the memories are yours as well.

By the way, dinner on July 16? Shepherd’s Pie at Sandysike Farm, in Cumbria, England.

And the afternoon of June 5, 2012? Exploring the Lewis & Clark Caverns in Montana.

Now go make a memory you won’t ever forget.