Jul 16, 2024

The Tough Teen Years

Modified from Dr Lauran Kastner book ‘Getting to Calm’. She is a very cleaver lady and one of my favourite work authors.

When kids hit the teenager years and the preteen years it’s a HUGH transition for most parents. Our children begin to be heavily influenced by their peer group and that often makes things difficult with the rules of our households. One the hardest things during this time is that as parents we lose our children automatic respect and we have to start earning it! YIKES Lets be honest when they were younger all had to do was turn up and they thought we were great. Our old style of parenting with punishment to control our children’s behaviours (including timeouts and consequences) is no longer working. In fact, most of the time we are really not too sure what they are up to when they are away from us.

Our job as parents is to lay the groundwork so that our children know right from wrong and start to act on it. Part of that groundwork includes a strong parent-child relationship so the child really does not want to disappoint us and WANTS to cooperate. It also includes teaching our children how to gains the ability to regulate their emotions, which lets them regulate their behaviour. Believe it or not research tells us that children who are lovingly guided to make amends and solve problems, are the ones who develop their internal discipline and gain a strong moral sense. Basically that means for us as parents to be respectful, give positive guidance right from the beginning. That raises our youth to be respectful, considerate, responsible, self-disciplined and delightful (Just like us!).
Here are some tips on how to establish that kind of parenting;

1. Agree with your child on non-negotiable family rules. No 1 - Talk in a respectful manner. Establish household RULE that is enforced by everyone. Kids lose respect for parents who yell because let’s be honest if your yelling you have lost control of your own emotions. . There shouldn't be many of them, stick to the important stuff. We need our kids to be involved so they have a sense of control and ownership of their behaviours.

2. Strengthening your relationship with your child so that when you set limits your child actually wants to co operate because of the relationship, not because of what you are asking them to do. To strengthen your relationship you need to make one-on-one time with them. During this time its quality time over quantity therefore do not talk about subjects that you know cause an issue. The purpose is to strengthen so enjoy each other.. listen to their music ask WHY they like it (because good chance you wont) Physical touch works wonders try a should massage or tickle their back/hair. If your child doesn’t enjoy being with you then you cannot hope to influence them.

3. No more Cotton Wool parenting allow them to experience natural consequences. When we worry about our children and FIX things for them we protect them from natural consequences. Eg Did not hand in their permission slip for the class trip, they will learn an invaluable lesson if you don't rescue them.

4. Stop punishing. OOOOH yes this one always hits a chord…. We need our developing adults to learn about self-discipline this will develop when they start to CHOOSE to give up what they want for something they want more. What do they want more? To follow your lead and have a good relationship with you. So focus on the relationship instead of punishment.

5. Focus on teaching your child to repair their mistakes. Worried that your child isn't being "held accountable"? Introduce the concept of reparations. This isn't a consequence (punishment) that you impose. This is when you ask your child if there's something he can do to make the situation better now. For instance, if he says something mean to his sister, he'll need to do some repair work on that relationship. If he breaks something, he'll need to help pay for a replacement. But remember that if you think up the reparation and force it down his throat, it only makes sense that he'll reject it. Instead, let this be an empowering opportunity for him to learn that we all make mistakes -- and we can always take action to make things better.

6. Reinforce their developing “good judgment” by reflecting. Discuss rather than lecture remember as soon as you start lecturing “click” out go the lights – they will no longer be listening. Questions that work 1000 times better than a lecture are –

  • "What were you wanting to have happen when you did this?"
  • "Was there some part of you that said 'Don't do this'?"
  • "What got into the way of you listening to that part of you?"
  • "How did that work out for you?"
  • "How did it work out for other people involved?"
  • "What else could you have done?"
  • "Right, you could have done do you think that would have worked out? What would have happened then?"
  • THEN help them to repair their mistakes. Let’s face it they are going to make a few over this time!. So teach them to start to repair it themselves so they are "held accountable" . This is when you ask your child is… there's something he can do to make the situation better now. They will need to do some repair work on whatever went pear shaped, don’t FORCE them to DO IT instead create an opportunity for them to learn that we all make mistakes -- and we can always take action to make things better.

7. Be kind but firm. It’s an absolute GIVEN that your child will test the limits just to make sure you are serious! Stay Calm and be consistent.

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