Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Best Parenting Ideas With Your Teen - Part 1

The other night we were on an evening boat cruise here in Austin.  In front of us was a mother, father and two teenage daughters, one of which clearly didn't want to be there.  We've all seen it - the arms crossed, constant frown, rolling of the eyes while trying to let everyone around her know that she was totally miserable.

Of course, the answer was easy.  Throw her overboard.

OK, maybe that wouldn't be the best option but dealing with an emotionally challenged teen is rarely simple.  And while our adolescents come in all sizes, personalities, and ways of reacting there are a few ideas we've tried that can help in parenting a teenager or two depending upon the situation.

First, give options when you can.  This tactic is a carryover from the elementary years just taken to a new and broader level.  When kids are 7 - 8 there are usually fewer options than when they become teens but the concept is the same.  Maybe the princess on our cruise the other night had said, "I'm not going on some stupid boat trip!  That is SO lame."

Options might be, "Well, you can either stay in a hot car for the next 90 minutes while we go or you can join us out on the lake and suffer spending some time with us.  Which works best for you?"  ( I have found that brief humor helps sometimes - not them, but me!)

Or, "Honey, you are going because we're on vacation and we're the parents.  This may not be your favorite thing but you have one of two options - be miserable, but not spoil the rest of the time for us or the other people on the boat or make the most of it and try to enjoy it for 90 minutes.  Which do you want to do because there are no other options."

Giving options of course can involve clothing, activities, how things get done, etc.  When our kids would ask us something rather spontaneously when we'd not had time to think about it we would use this line:  "If you need an answer right now, the answer is no.  If you can wait 15 minutes (or whatever time needed) the answer is maybe. Which of those would you like to go with?"

Or, "No you can't wear that outfit, period, but you can choose from these.  Take your pick."

"Mom, everyone's going for pizza right now and Allison wants to know if I can ride with her."  Let's say that riding with Allison is not ok for some reason.  You might say, "Well, you can't ride with Allison but there are several other possibilities.  If you can wait 20 minutes we'll drive you or you can drive on your own or [fill in the blank].  Why don't you decide which of those options you'd prefer."

I'm not suggesting you won't get a fight but your child will first of all learn that this is how you do things in these situations and second they will more likely feel like they still have some choice in the matter.

You see, choices help develop their already developing mind. Their thinking is moving more from the objective to the subjective. They will need to learn that a lot of life is about choices and making the best ones.  So when we as parents give them practice with making choices in our own discipline structure we're actually helping them learn to think rather than just be told what to do. 

However, as I've suggested in other posts, you have to stay firm and not give in.  If you keep changing your mind because they whine or protest they'll learn that whining and protest work and you'll get  more of that from them every time.

And be sure to think about your choices ahead of time when you can.  Hear yourself actually saying the choices that you're prepared to offer. You'll become more creative and effective the more you can plan ahead!  I'll share some other ideas next time such as when a parent should actually consider pulling them out of the water. :)
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

No comments:

Post a Comment