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Implementing Effective Consequences for Teenagers

Are you dealing with a disrespectful teenager? Don't let this behavior go unchecked, or you'll soon have a disaster on your hands. Teenagers need to know that their actions have consequences, but as a mother or father, you need to ensure that you enforce effective consequences for disrespectful behavior in teenagers – both at home and school.

As a former disrespectful teen, I remember all too well being on the opposite side of the fence. I hope the following tips for dealing with disrespectful teenagers will help you establish effective consequences:

1. Choosing effective consequences for your disrespectful adolescent shouldn't be difficult. You either give or you take away: You give additional chores or work assignments, and you take away personal entertainment access. You must decide on a time period for the effective consequence to take place. Does one smart remark earn one missed hour of video games? Does a detention at school mean one night being grounded?

2. Consequences should be closely related to your teen’s misbehavior (e.g., if your son comes in late for curfew on Friday night, set his curfew 30 minutes earlier the next weekend).

3. Continued misbehavior requires a warning of the consequence. Move closer to the teen than normal conversational distance and make direct and prolonged eye contact. Be very specific about your expectation and the time frame for compliance. Tell him exactly what the consequence of noncompliance will be. Walk away and give him the opportunity to comply. If the warning doesn't work, send the teen to another room while you both cool off. Ignore arguing and expressions of anger. After a few minutes, go back to your teen. Speak calmly and without emotion. Explain that the consequence is now in effect and how long it will last.

4. Dialogue with your adolescent about her disrespectful behavior. See if you can locate the source of your adolescent's disrespectful behavior by chatting candidly and frankly. Part of the battle in adolescence comes from being forced to transition between childhood and adulthood with a shaky balance until your adolescent has found her footing. Ease the transition and show your respect for your adolescent by talking to her as you would any other grown-up.

5. Don’t debate—it will only make things worse and result in a power struggle.

6. Don’t overreact or under–react. Moms and dads can often be too intense (e.g., make the consequence too long or difficult) or too permissive (neglect to follow through on giving a consequence).

7. Don't discount the teaching effect of natural consequences. For example, if your teen refuses to do homework, he'll get a bad grade. If he shoplifts and gets caught, he'll probably have legal problems. These are the logical consequences for the misbehavior. Let your teen experience them.

8. Don't keep a running tab of your teen's misbehavior. Implement consequences for misbehavior, and then let it go.

9. Evaluate your own actions. Actions always speak louder than words, so make sure that what you say matches up with what you do. Any discrepancies will be noted by your eagle-eyed disrespectful adolescent and may even be brought painfully to your attention. Telling an adolescent not to smoke when you've been a pack a day smoker since you were his age wouldn't accomplish anything.

10. Have patience. Though it may have seemed as if your well-behaved youngster transformed suddenly into a surly adolescent, the truth is that these patterns of disrespect in adolescents don't develop overnight. You won't be able to resolve the problem instantly, so don't expect that you can. By holding true to the effective consequences that you decide on for your adolescent, you must be consistent for at least thirty days before you can see any lasting effects.

11. If you find that the consequences you’ve given aren’t effective, there’s nothing wrong with going back to the drawing board. If you’ve assigned too harsh of a consequence, you may need to rethink what you’ve said and come back with something else. Also, you may need to change the consequence because your teen isn’t taking it seriously.

12. If you’re feeling frustrated or angry, you might say, “Let’s talk about this when we’re both calm. I’ll get back to you later in the day.”

13. If your adolescent is being disrespectful to others at school, schedule meetings with your adolescent's classroom teachers to discuss the problem. Many teachers have dealt with similar problems from similar adolescents and may be able to offer advice, support, and resources to help.

14. Make sure the consequence you give your teen makes him uncomfortable (e.g., it would be meaningless to take away a video game from a teen who doesn’t like them very much).

15. Once the child has been disciplined, resist the urge to keep reminding him of the past offense.

16. Remember that an effective consequence is (a) clear and specific, (b) logically related to the misbehavior, (c) time-limited, and (d) varied.

17. Remember, if you’re out of control, it reduces your authority.

18. Remind your adolescent that he is loved. It might sound a little too new age for your taste, but all human beings need to feel loved. Disrespectful behavior often comes as a result of nothing getting enough loving attention. By reinforcing your positive feelings about the adolescent, you let your child know that you care. Your adolescent might scoff at your open admission of love, but deep down, adolescents need to hear this message.

19. Take a deep breath. The old trick that tells you to count to ten and take a deep breath before scolding anyone is a great one to keep actively in mind during your son’s or daughter’s teen years. Adolescence is often a difficult transition for your youngster, so try to remember this. Take a couple of days to draft a list of effective consequences for your disrespectful adolescent.

20. Talk with a mental health professional is the behavior continues after you've steadily been enforcing effective consequences for disrespectful behavior. The problem may rest deeper than you are able to effectively manage. You might even consider parent-child counseling.

21. The consequences you give should have a definite beginning and end. You don’t want to make them so long and drawn out that your teen can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. When consequences are too harsh or have no end, the teenager starts to feel hopeless and just gives up. They need to feel like they’re capable of following through on whatever the expectation is.

22. There are times when you need time to think about what consequence would be most effective. Often it’s useful for your teen to have time to think about what he’s done, as well. It’s uncomfortable for children to have to wait and hear what their mother or father is going to say—and taking that time will help you come up with a more effective consequence.

23. We often take our teen's behavior personally and see it as a reflection on us. But our job is to teach our kids about good behavior. How we teach is by managing their behavior and actions. In a sense, our parenting work is to "civilize" our kids so that they can be responsible, caring, loving grown-ups.

24. When you are caught up in the heat of the moment, you definitely need to take a timeout. When you do this, you don't have to let your teen know what you're doing. Just send him to his room and tell him you'll be back to talk with him later. It's okay for your teen to be anxious about what the consequence might be. Remember, that waiting period can be a useful period. This is also a perfect example of a time when parents need to be good actors. Try to keep your face and tone as neutral as possible when you speak to your teen, even if you're steaming mad inside.

25. When you notice non-compliance, first give a reminder. Remember to make direct eye contact. This simple strategy will work most of the time. Begin to think of an effective consequence if the reminder doesn't work.

26. When you see your teen behaving the way he should, take time to notice and then say something about it. The old adage of “catch your child in the act of being good” is true for a reason—it acknowledges good behavior and inspires him to keep trying.

27. When your teen misbehaves, you always want to ask him this question afterward: “What will you do differently next time?” Have him come up with some examples. If he can’t, you can help him with a few of your own.

28. When you're telling your teen what his consequence is after he's misbehaved, be as brief and clear as possible. It can completely undo the lesson you want him to learn if you repeat yourself or get in a long discussion about it. This is because it's easy for you as a parent to start negotiating or minimizing, or to get drawn into an argument with your teen.

29. Write a list of consequences and rewards that might be of value to your teenager. You can even ask him for his ideas for consequences and rewards.

30. Your teen needs to be capable of doing what you ask (e.g., if you say that his consequence is to patch and paint the hole he kicked in the wall, but he has no idea how to do that, you’ll both end up frustrated—and the bad behavior will probably escalate).

How To Put Your Child In “Time-Out”

Time-outs can be an effective method of discipline for kids ages 3 to 9. Getting the best results will require some work in the beginning, but things will get easier as time goes on.

This type of discipline, which involves isolating the youngster for a short period of time so he can think over his behavior, can help the mother or father feel less guilty for disciplining the youngster.

Tips for making time-outs an effective disciplinary method:

1. A time-out allows both the parent and the youngster to have a few minutes on their own before talking through the issue.

2. A time-out provides kids with an understanding that they are responsible for their own actions, and that there are consequences to negative behavior.

3. A time-out provides the tools necessary for parent and child to have a conversation about why the behavior is inappropriate and what can be done differently next time.

4. Choose a designated area or chair in a boring place. Make sure there is no television or other distractions close by. If you live in a small place, face the chair to a wall. Remember to discipline the youngster and not reward him by sitting him on a couch in front of a TV.

5. Decide which kinds of misbehaviors you will use the time-outs for. Common misbehaviors that require time-outs include:
  • back talk
  • biting
  • grabbing
  • hitting
  • kicking
  • name-calling
  • pushing
  • screaming
  • shoving
  • spitting
  • temper tantrums
  • yelling

Waking up in a bad mood or forgetting a chore wouldn't need to be disciplined by a time-out because these are not aggressive behaviors. Explain to the youngster ahead of time what a time-out is and how it will be used.

6. Discuss with the youngster the reason for the time-out when time is up.

7. For a time-out to be effective, your youngster has to understand the rules AND be able to connect inappropriate behavior with temporary loss of privileges. So, make sure your youngster understands the concept of consequences.

8. The time-out should be appropriate for the age and development of your youngster. If everyone is playing in the living room, and a 3-year-old needs a time-out, he doesn't have to be banished all the way to his room. It will make enough of an impact on him that he has to stop playing and sit quietly on the couch or in a time-out chair. For a school-age child, it may be more appropriate for him to go to his room (and may actually be less embarrassing for him).

9. Use a time-out immediately after the bad behavior. Don't carry on a conversation on the way.

10. Use age-appropriate time-outs. The general rule is one minute for each year of age. So a 3-year-old would sit for 3 minutes, while a 4-year-old would sit for 4 minutes, and so on. Even if it's difficult to make a youngster sit in a time-out for that amount of time, be firm and persistent. The best thing about this form of discipline is that as time goes on, it gets easier and easier to enforce. Persistence and not giving in are the keys. If it helps, a portable kitchen timer can be used to count down the minutes.

11. When used calmly and consistently, a time-out is an incredible helpful way to raise responsible and communicative kids.

12. The most important part of a time-out is when the time-out is over, but before the youngster has returned to his activity. This is where you have the opportunity to talk to him. The following points are the most crucial to make sure that the youngster understands why he was in a time-out, and what he can do to avoid one in the future. The conversation should be brief and age-appropriate. If you're dealing with a young child, you're going to do most of the talking, but with an older child, it can be more of a dialogue. Once the youngster has served his time, he has "paid his debt to society" and the incident should be considered over and done with.
  1. Review the situation (e.g., "You had a time-out because you were mad and hit your sister")
  2. Restate the rule and give an alternate behavior (e.g., "We don't hit when we're mad – we can use our words")
  3. Let the child resume his activity (e.g., "You did a good job in your time-out, so now you can say sorry to your sister and go play)" 

My Out-of-Control Child: Help for Parents with Defiant Children

How To Raise Responsible Teens: Everything Parents Need To Know

The thought of raising adolescents often comes with fear and trembling accompanied by visions of raging hormones and slamming doors. In a world that often teaches us to "watch out for number one," it can be a challenge to raise responsible teenagers.

Below are THE BEST TIPS to follow that will help moms and dads provide opportunities for their teenagers to develop responsible behaviors:

1. Adolescence is a time when teens move quickly from being dependent where they look up to you and usually want to please, to becoming independent and wanting to make their own decisions and think for themselves. This path is not always smooth because the changes can be hard to cope with for both you and your adolescent. This is a time for moms and dads to gradually help adolescents to take responsibility for themselves. During adolescence your teens may seem to temporarily reject your values and it is easy to become frustrated and distressed and feel that you have lost your influence and control over your teens. Shouting, stubbornness, irrational behavior, sulkiness and crying can be expected from time to time as they 'test out the waters', try new ways of managing their lives, and deal with the ups and downs of teenage life. It can be a difficult time for everyone and requires consideration and patience on all sides.

2. Adolescents need some rules and limits. It works best if you can work these out together with your adolescent so that she feels she has some choice. This means there is more chance of her being responsible.

3. Adolescents usually have more than enough social outlets. They need boundaries and safe, secure situations in which to grow. You are the provider of both, and when you act like a friend, your adolescent will lose security. Adolescents who view their moms and dads as authority figures and providers are more likely to be close to them in adulthood. Despite what appearances might suggest, adolescents do not respect moms and dads who behave like adolescents. Relating to your adolescent, based on your own experiences, can be a successful method of working through challenging situations, but at no time should you lose your parental status.

4. Allow for some risk taking, but also keep your adolescent's safety in mind. You need to have some rules that protect your adolescent's safety away from home and some for how she behaves in the home.

5. Ask yourself how important it is to 'win' the battle. Focus on the important things and learn to overlook minor ones.

6. At times, you may feel like the enemy, and your adolescent might actually refer to you as such. No matter how hurt you may feel, it is important to remain the one person who consistently stands by your adolescent. Peers and educators will come and go. But you will always be the mother or father. By establishing rules and consequences, you’re the one person in your adolescent’s life that holds him accountable no matter what. Even if we don’t like authority figures in our lives, they typically establish order and security.

7. Authority and mutual respect are essential. You have to mean what you say and stick to your guns. If your adolescent is grounded for two weeks, then make sure he stays home the full two weeks. Without follow through, adolescents won’t get the message and will continue to test you.

8. Be generous in times of stress (e.g., exams or a romance break-up). It will be appreciated.

9. Be mindful that limits for 13-year-olds are not suitable for 16-year-olds and are far less suitable for 18-year-olds.

10. Before you jump in and react, look for the cause. Listen first to what your adolescent has to say.

11. Continually reminding your adolescent of past mistakes is not helpful. It is important to give your adolescent a chance to try again after a mistake. Mistakes are how we all learn.

12. Don't decide on rules in the middle of a crisis, especially if your adolescent is in trouble for doing something wrong.

13. Don't store up bad feelings from the last time your adolescent broke the rules.

14. Every teenager should feel some discomfort. Your adolescent should have to deal with whatever results from his behavior as long as it’s fair, reasonable, and directly related. At the same time, don’t set up rules and regulations that might put him in danger. For example, if his curfew is midnight, don’t require him to speed in order to make it home on time. As long as he calls ahead and doesn’t bend the curfew consistently, give him some leeway with the exact minute he has to be back.

15. Expect and insist on a fair share in helping with chores so that your adolescent learns to contribute, feels a part of the family and shares the load.

16. Gradually remove the limits as your adolescent takes over the reins of her own life.

17. If behavior seems to be getting out of control or there is violence, you need to get support.

18. It’s essential to make sure your adolescent knows that you love him despite anything he does. Even greater, you love him enough to not let him develop behaviors that may be harmful to him or anyone else. Direct your criticisms and comments at the behavior, not the adolescent. If your adolescent fails a course due to lack of effort, don’t use phrases like “You’re lazy” or “You’ll never do well because you don’t try.” While you may even feel that these thoughts are accurate at the time, they only condemn and don’t solve the real issue. Focus on the behavior that created the problem such as not studying or not asking for needed help. Be sure to express that you’re not only confident that the behavior can change, but you’re expecting it to change. Then work together on specific restrictions and actions that need to take place for the behavior to improve.

19. It’s not funny when your adolescent messes up, particularly when you’re left to clean up the mess. Losing your sense of humor won’t help. It may not seem funny at the time, but most challenging situations can eventually be viewed in a comical way. If your adolescent feels comfortable laughing and joking with you regularly, he’ll also be more likely to listen when you get serious.

20. Just because rules are broken does not mean there shouldn't be any rules. When rules are broken, there needs to be some consequence, but this has to be carefully thought about.

21. Look after yourself. Get support, talk to others and give yourself a 'break' without feeling guilty.

22. Moms and dads may feel that they put in a lot of effort with their adolescent and they are often hurt when even the most reasonable agreements are not kept. This is normal and part of your adolescent testing. It is wiser not to over-react.

23. Moms and dads want to be respected but don’t always return that respect by listening to their adolescent. Not listening to your adolescent expresses that you don’t feel he has anything valuable to say. Even when disagreeing, adolescents should be given time to express their feelings and thoughts. This shouldn’t give an adolescent the right to be ugly or behave inappropriately, of course. Modeling and developing guidelines for how argumentative ideas should be expressed is essential. If you want to be heard, learn to listen.

24. Most teens simply “shut down” when the parent gets “pissed” and starts yelling at them. Sometimes moms and dads only punish once they have reached the end of their patience. In reality, this allows adolescents to misbehave for a period of time before suffering any consequences. Not only is this confusing, it can also lead to abuse. Dealing with an adolescent emotionally often produces dramatic immediate effects, but ultimately it creates a communication wall in the relationship. Consistent parenting prevents punishing in anger and rage. Stepping away from the situation to recover emotionally also proves helpful.

25. Often you need to do things together on their terms. Listen to their ideas without trying to force your ideas on them. Take an interest in what is important to them and you will have a good baseline to work from.

26. Regarding chores, expect that you will often have to remind him and that in his eyes he is "the only one doing anything" and that he "has done heaps already!"

27. Remember even when you love your adolescents you can still get angry and dislike what they do at times.

28. Save grounding for the worst violations (e.g., staying out past curfew, hanging out in places you haven’t approved, harming others, doing something illegal, etc.). Restrict privileges (e.g., using the car or computer) for less serious offenses like neglecting schoolwork or not filling the gas tank. The most minor errors, such as letting dirty laundry pile up, may simply mean your adolescent won’t have clean clothes to wear.

29. Set consequences that can be quickly completed and then give your adolescent a chance to try again (e.g., "You came home very late after we agreed on a time, so tomorrow I will pick you up" or "Tomorrow you will have to stay home").

30. Show your adolescent how to earn freedom. Tell her: “You are responsible for what you choose to do and for what happens to you and others as a result of your decisions and actions.” It’s your adolescent’s choice. The more she proves to be responsible (i.e., dependable and honest), the more freedom you can give her. If she violates your trust by acting irresponsibly, you take away some of that freedom. For instance, if she gets a speeding ticket, take away her license until she rebuilds your trust. The two of you should collaborate on how she can begin to earn back your confidence. If moms and dads start from the assumption that their kids are honest and responsible, adolescents will want to live up to that trust. But don’t assume children will figure things out on their own.

31. Some of life’s greatest lessons result from failing. Moms and dads who micromanage their adolescents because they are afraid of their adolescent failing prevent their youngster from developing important life skills. As much as you don’t want to have to discipline your adolescent, letting him fail and living with the consequences can teach him more than your chosen discipline.

32. Some parents use a technique called “placing a guilt-trip.” Guilt may create an immediate response, but this style of discipline actually promotes internal emotional issues for adolescents that may not be dealt with until adulthood, if ever. Reasoning with an adolescent, providing a basis for your expectations and consequences, does not always evoke an immediate response, but the long-term results are typically more positive.

33. Trusting your adolescent is an important part of your relationship. Trust has to be earned by both of you. Remind yourself that your adolescent is struggling with lots of new feelings and his behavior could be showing genuine unhappiness which needs your concern.

34. Try to find out from other moms and dads what limits they are setting and remember that if you are too far away from what their friends' moms and dads are doing, you will have much more difficulty in getting your adolescent to cooperate with you.

35. Understand that what works for one teenager might not work for another.

36. What you say to yourself makes all the difference in how you cope with teenage problems. If you think, "Why should I have to put up with this behavior?" you are more likely to act in a way that drags out the battle, than if you think, "My son is struggling at the moment and I need to work out the best way to sort this out".

37. Whatever you decide in the way of disciplinary measures, know that your adolescent is likely to see it as punishment and be resentful – but if you don't take any action, you are making it more difficult for yourself next time.

38. Whenever possible, the discipline should be reflective of wrongdoing. For example, if an adolescent returns home after curfew, limiting his nights out temporarily would be appropriate. An adolescent that doesn’t complete school work might be required to miss a social event to complete the work. If the adolescent misses the social event as a consequence, but doesn’t actually do school work, the consequences don’t make sense and just seem spiteful.

39. While all kids need consistent discipline, it’s even more important for adolescents. They get frustrated when a behavior is acceptable one day and not acceptable the next. The established rules need specific consequences. Realistic and consistent consequences demonstrate a “real world” view for adolescents. Creating house rules with consequences, then responding appropriately, provides all kids with security and direction.

40. Work on your relationship with your teenager first, because no discipline will be successful unless this is the basis. Having a good relationship takes time.

My Out-of-Control Teen: How To Effectively Discipline Unruly Teenagers

Does Your Child or Teenager Have a “Sense of Entitlement”?

Walk through any high school hallway or shopping mall lobby and you’ll see them: teenagers with iPods, a BlackBerry or iPhone or Droid in hand, sitting at tables with laptops or maybe even the new iPad. Today’s teens are drowning in the digital age, and some say the teenagers have an “I deserve it – and you owe me” attitude. As more and more digital “toys” enter the scene, moms and dads increase complaints about a “sense of entitlement” some teenagers seem to have, a belief that they deserve - or should simply have - the latest and greatest offerings available.

In the post-modern period, teenagers have typically begun to display a sense of entitlement that their moms and dads can't understand. Teenagers born in the 1990s, for example, were born into a world of personal computers, cable television, compact disc players and other technological advances. Many parents have showered their kids with these wonderful toys and gifts. As a result, today's teenagers now feel entitled to all these devices and other privileges as a matter of course and not because of hard work or sacrifice. The adolescent may seem spoiled in comparison to older generations.

Signs and symptoms of entitlement include:
  • Expecting a certain standard of living without work or effort
  • Feeling entitled to move back home with parents because being an adult is “too hard”
  • Feeling justified in supporting their lifestyle on credit, and expecting parents to “help” pay their bills
  • Kids and teens who “must have” the latest fads and fashions
  • Older teens entering the workforce feel entitled to start at the top
  • Older teens who feel they should be given handouts until they find jobs that “suit” them
  • Teens feel entitled to a new car when they turn 16
  • Older teens who just don’t like their jobs feel entitled to quit and collect unemployment

When children have a sense of entitlement, they don’t see the world in real terms. When money and material goods have been handed to them their whole lives, they won’t have the idea that they should work to achieve their goals. Their view of the world will be, “If I want it, someone will give it to me.”

How to reduce your child’s sense of entitlement:

1. As much as we hate to admit it, spoiling is mostly about the moms and dads. We often try to compensate for what we didn't have as kids, to assure ourselves that our kids love us, or to make up for any parental guilt we feel. One mother states, "I came from a huge family and grew up wearing hand-me-downs, so I'm always buying my daughters the most stylish, matching outfits to wear to school. I know that's more about my issues than theirs!" Giving your children whatever new gadget they want as soon as they want it is also a way to show off how successful you are, both financially and as a supermom. Try to figure out where your need to spoil is coming from. Ask yourself a series of questions:
  • Are you feeling guilty for not spending enough time with your children?
  • Are you getting more of a kick out of this gift than your youngster is?
  • Are you tired, overstressed, and trying to find a quick-fix solution?

Once you figure out what's driving your tendency to spoil your children, you'll be better able to kick the habit.

2. The first few times you stick to a new rule and say “no,” it will be painful — for you, your youngster, and everyone else within hearing distance. There will be tantrums at first, so fasten your seat belt and react to them in a very calm and neutral way. If you hold to that line every day, your youngster will learn that this is not the way to get something that he wants, and he will eventually stop. In fact, experts compare this part of the de-spoiling process to sleep-training your baby: a week or so of stress and tears, and then one blissful night your baby sleeps till morning — or your kid finally understands the word “no.”

3. Moms and dads have this illusion that if they give their kids a “reason why” they can't do what they want, the youngster will stop wanting it, but that has never happened in the history of parenting! Instead of trying to “reason” your youngster into obeying you, simply say, "No, and that's the end of the discussion." If she comes back at you with, "Why?" remind her, "In our house – that is the rule." (Note: A survey by the Center for a New American Dream found that children will ask for something an average of nine times before the moms and dads cave. So stay strong and repeat your simple "no" on the ninth, tenth, and eleventh entreaty. Eventually, your youngster will realize that her attempts are futile, and she'll move on.)

4. By now, your youngster should be behaving so wonderfully that you will be tempted to smother him with tons of treats. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can bestow in abundance without running the risk of spoiling (e.g., snuggling on the couch, reading books, saying "I love you", popping a bowl of popcorn, watching the football game, etc.). And don't forget those weekly rewards for good behavior — if your youngster has followed all the rules you set, go ahead and share an ice cream sundae or do each other's nails. Because when you strip the parent-child relationship down to its core, it's pretty simple: Most children would forgo another stuffed animal in favor of time with you. And that's something money can't buy.

5. When all their other tactics fail, kids will inevitably resort to the one sentence that has been used to guilt moms and dads since that first annoying caveman next door gave his son a shiny new rock: "But all my friends have one!" Unfortunately, there is no magical response that will definitively shoot this argument down, but there are a couple of strategies that can be successful. You can say to your youngster, “That's interesting. Let's talk about it.” There may be a good reason for your youngster wanting what the other children have. It might be a great new game everyone is playing at recess or a new book they're all talking about. Tell your youngster that you will look into it, and see if it's something you want him to have. If the book/toy/game seems worthwhile, you can add it to his birthday list, or together you can come up with a strategy for how he can "earn" it, whether that means helping him calculate how much allowance he'll need to buy it (e.g., perhaps he needs to save half the price, and you'll kick in the rest) or suggesting it as a reward for a good report card.

6. There is a slippery slope in parenting, where the initial "If you behave, I'll buy you a treat" turns into "Here, take this treat, and hopefully you'll behave." To wean your youngster off this demand-reward pattern, you'll have to set the new rules in stone. Observe your youngster for a few days to notice when she is really being demanding and refusing to take no for an answer — whether it's with staying up past her bedtime, asking for new toys, or wanting candy. Let's say you recognize a pattern: Your daughter refuses to sit still at the dinner table unless she is promised her favorite dessert. The next step is to come up with a rule and a realistic consequence (e.g., taking away TV or computer privileges) for her behavior, keeping in mind your youngster's age and tolerance level. And make sure your spouse is on board with the new plan (children are experts at playing one parent off the other). Then, sit down and explain the rules to your youngster: "In our house, we get ice cream on Friday night if we have behaved at dinner all week. If there is whining for candy during dinner, you will lose the ice cream privilege." Ask your youngster to repeat it back to you to make sure she understands — or better yet, make a chart together that she can decorate with stickers each time she follows the rules.

7. While our instant-gratification culture has made life easier in many ways, it has also diluted the joy of looking forward to special experiences. Just think about the buildup of excitement you get when you plan a vacation a month away — there's the thrill of planning it, packing for it, talking to your friends about it. When you finally get there, the joy is magnified. But if there is no wait …no period of dreaming about it …the thrill is often less intense. When children are accustomed to getting things right away, nothing excites them anymore. The bar has been raised so high that by the time they're teens, they might start looking toward other things (e.g., alcohol, drugs, sex, etc.) for thrills. Teaching your kids to wait for fun helps them sustain focus and attention (two very important skills for success in school).

My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

Are Your Raising A Spoiled Child?

Nobody wants to raise a spoiled youngster. But striking a balance between love and over-indulgence can be hard. There are no scientific facts about spoiled kids …no hard facts detailing the subject. However, there are plenty of moms and dads who worry about over-indulging their children, and plenty of professionals who have opinions on the matter.

My definition of a spoiled youngster is one with a sense of entitlement (e.g., "I deserve whatever I want – and I shouldn’t have to work for it”) who has a parent that is over-protective and all-giving (e.g., “Telling my child ‘no’ may damage our relationship”).

What does "over-protective" have to do with spoiled?

Well… over-protective moms and dads don't want their youngster to fail; therefore, they do everything in their power to make sure this doesn't happen. But at a certain point, these moms and dads are no longer doing their youngster a favor. The youngster becomes accustomed to having things done for him/her, and assumes that everyone will work for his/her success – and that's just not true!

How To Stop Spoiling Your Children—

1. "No" is not a bad word: In other words, you're not hurting your child by saying “no.” In many cases, you may be helping him. Your youngster does not have to love you every minute of every day. He'll get over the disappointment of having been told "no" – but he won't get over the effects of being spoiled.

2. Avoid comparisons: Setting limits and saying "no" becomes even harder when moms and dads of your youngster's friends are saying “yes.” Stand firm by your decisions. Your son may complain that all of his friends have an X Box and nobody will want to come over unless he gets one, too. I suggest telling your youngster to enjoy playing the video game at friends' homes and finding something unique to do at his own home. Your son has qualities and possessions that attract his friends, and they will still want to come over. He should be proud of these things, not embarrassed or upset by what he doesn't have.

3. Avoid materialism: If your parent-child relationship is based on material goods, your youngster won't have the chance to experience unconditional love.

4. Be a good role model: We're not the only influence in our children' lives, so we better be the best influence.

5. Don't let your guilt get in the way of your parenting: Your job as a parent is not to make yourself feel good by giving the youngster everything that makes you feel good when you give it. Your job as a parent is to prepare your youngster to succeed in school and in life. Children have to be socialized in a way that they understand “you work hard for what you get.” You don't want to teach your youngster that they will get everything through manipulation, pouting, crying, door slamming and guilt induction.

6. Make sure your youngster understands the value of hard work: One mother always told her daughters, “If you make Cs, you're going to have a C standard of living. If you make Bs, you're going to have a B standard of living. If you make As, you're going to have an A standard of living.” Help your youngster set goals. Teach her that striving to own nice things is fine if she understands how much hard work it takes to afford that, and then doesn't base her self-worth around what she buys.

7. Make sure your kids aren't defining their happiness and their status in the world as a function of what they wear or drive: Sit down with them and have a one-on-one conversation about what really defines their worth, their intelligence, their creativity, their caring, their giving, their work ethic, etc.

8. Money is not the problem: Money has nothing to do with spoiling a youngster. Even kids from low-income families can wind up spoiled. If you are on the phone with your husband, even if you're just talking about dinner plans, and your 7-year-old keeps wanting to talk to you, wants to interrupt and thinks that's OK ... he's spoiled. The youngster assumes you are going to drop everything and pay total attention to him. You have indulged this behavior in the past, and now the youngster expects it all the time. Kids are going to ask for things, and moms and dads are going to want to say “yes.” They simply enjoy giving things to - and doing things for - their children. It's like a high, an honor, a joy. But think about it this way: you don't need all the sugar you want ... so why does your youngster?

9. Prepare your youngster for reality: Your primary job as a parent is to prepare your youngster for how the world really works. In the real world, you don't always get what you want. You will be better able to deal with that as a grown-up if you've experienced it as a youngster.

10. Redefine what taking care of your kids really means: Are you providing for them emotionally and spiritually? You need not buy them material goods in order to create a bond. Instead of tangible gifts, how about spending some time together? Be careful that you aren't teaching them that emotions can be healed by a trip to the mall.

11. Set limits and stick by them: It's tiring and tedious and just not fun, but moms and dads must decide what they are willing to give their kids in terms of material goods and attention, and then stand by this decision. Once you take a stand, recognize that your youngster will try to manipulate you. He'll give lots of logical reasons why he needs to have something. But stick with your decision! So if you do buy your youngster a toy after telling him you wouldn't, you can be sure he will persistently badger you the next time you say "no." He now knows that if he's persistent, he can break down your resolve.

12. Stand firm: Of course, this single act is not going to magically change your youngster. You must consistently tell your youngster when you think she is acting spoiled. Explain why you think this and why it's important to compromise or share. Most importantly, begin setting limits and standing by them.

13. Teach charity: For instance, if you believe you've bought too many toys for your youngster, tell him so. Go on to explain that he does not play with all of them and is no longer putting them away or taking care of them. Allow him to choose a few favorite items, and then give the rest away to charity. This will teach him about giving to others while learning to value what he has.

14. Think of the future: Remember that this change won't be easy, but it is important. If you continue to spoil your kids, they will get to the point where they are not satisfied by anything!!! They will never feel gratified. When you decide to stop spoiling your youngster, it doesn't mean you can no longer buy her designer clothes or nice things – just cut back. Buy one pair of designer jeans, not twelve.

15. Understand "intrinsic" versus "extrinsic" motivation: Intrinsic motivation is when people do things because they feel proud of themselves when they do it. They feel a sense of accomplishment and achievement. Extrinsic motivation is when someone does something because of external motivation (e.g., they will receive money, a toy or privilege if they do the task). If you are always rewarding your youngster with material things, he will never learn how to motivate himself with internal rewards like pride. He also will never learn to value things, because there are so many things - and nothing is special.

Discipline for Troubled Teens

How To Be More Assertive: 12 Tips For Parents

There are various parenting styles, ranging from an authoritative type that values obedience and uses strict discipline – to permissive parenting that imposes few limitations and little or no correction. Assertive parenting is a flexible style that is well suited to a rapidly changing world. It doesn't impose a concrete concept of right and wrong. Instead, it helps kids and teens learn to make choices. It takes certain skills to use assertive parenting effectively.

Are you a passive – or an assertive – parent?

Let’s find out…

A passive parent:
  • Allows their kids to cross boundaries - “I’m tired of your constant whining. It gets on my nerves. I want you to stop it. OK?”
  • Is prone to begging, pleading, bribing and whining - “If you kids would just do what I ask then I wouldn’t have to repeat myself.”
  • Makes wishful and questioning rather than assertive statements - “I wish there were less yelling and arguing. Is that asking too much? What is the matter with you kids?
  • Removes the blame from themselves and places it on the kids - “I have spoiled-rotten, entitled kids. They expect everything to be handed to them.”

Clearly, if one has already established a history of passive parenting, making the change to being an assertive parent won’t come overnight. Mistakes are prone to happen and, as parents, we tend to fall back onto what feels comfortable. But the cycle of passive parenting leads to abused and harassed parents - a cycle that should be broken as soon as possible. As moms and dads, we’ll never be perfect. The very best we can do is practice.

An assertive parent:
  • Kids are given lots of practice in making choices and guided to see the consequences of those choices.
  • Kids are part of deciding how to make amends when someone - or something - has been hurt.
  • Kids learn to accept responsibility, make wiser choices, cope with change, and are better equipped to succeed in a work-force which relies on cooperative problem-solving.
  • Clarifying issues, parents give reasons for limits.
  • Parents establish basic guidelines for kids.
  • Teaching children to take responsibility is a high priority.
  • Misbehavior is handled with an appropriate consequence or by problem-solving with the youngster to find an acceptable way to get desires met.
  • Out-of-control kids have "cool-off" time, not punishment.

Being assertive does not equate to being aggressive or threatening. Instead, assertive parenting incorporates the use of statements that do not place blame and are direct. Assertive statements are designed in such a way as to not leave room for questioning and will often use the word "I".

Some examples:
  • "I want the arguing to stop now."
  • "If you do not finish your homework in the allotted time, I will have no choice but to eliminate television time."
  • "When you whine, it really bothers me. I would prefer you use your regular voice when you would like something."

These statements all clearly indicate what needs to be accomplished without resorting to aggressive or threatening behavior. Often kids like to push back and see what the limits really are and, in these cases, establishing clearly what the consequences will gives them the guidelines they require.

How To Be More Assertive In Your Parenting—

1. Be Honest with Kids— Don't lie to a youngster or promise what isn't in your power to deliver. Telling a youngster that the sun will be shining for a picnic is folly at best, and can destroy his faith in your integrity. Promising that another youngster will like him is another dangerous parent trap, causing more distress in the long run. Being honest about life's struggles teaches kids to share feelings and deal with reality rather than deny or avoid it.

2. Communicate Your Expectations Clearly— Assertive parenting involves being very clear in your expectations. A youngster cannot behavior properly if she does not know exactly what that entails. For example, you might say, "Clean your room" and then be upset when she makes her bed, does a cursory pick-up of the floor and considers the job done. To her, that may be "clean." Specify what you want by saying, "Change the linens, vacuum the floor, put your clothes away and take out the trash." Then she knows exactly what you want her to do and can perform accordingly.

3. Exercise Parental Leadership— Stand up courageously and be counted as a parent, not a buddy. Young people are in need of clear, positive leadership. They already have plenty of peers.

4. Foster Self-Esteem— Even your choice of rewards can help guide your kids into the comfort of assertiveness. When kids learn to feel proud of themselves, they have gained a life-long skill. Say, "Pat yourself on the back" to foster self-confidence. Do that more often than giving gifts and treats.

5. Offer Choices— Assertive parenting is focused on teaching kids to make choices and to take responsibility for the outcome. Discuss the situation with your son or daughter before any action is taken. The youngster can identify various options, and the parent can guide the youngster through a discussion of the probable outcomes of each choice. Then the youngster can select her preferred choice based on this analytical approach.

6. Have a Plan for Consequences— Think before speaking, and back up those words with firm, caring actions. Thinking through consequences can be done beforehand, when things are calm. Carrying out the consequences can be done in a matter of fact manner, expressing faith in the youngster's ability to come out ahead in the end. This allows the youngster to feel a sense of family as opposed to being at odds with moms and dads.

7. Impose Consequences Directly Related to the Misbehavior— Assertive parenting involves using discipline that is directly tied into what the youngster did wrong. For example, if the youngster breaks something, he would be required to fix it or to earn the money to do so. The parent might impose the consequence, or she might discuss the situation with the youngster and get his input on what an appropriate punishment would be.

8. Impose Cooling-Off Time in Response to Outbursts— An assertive parent directs her youngster to a cooling-off period when the youngster is throwing a tantrum or having an emotional outburst. This takes the place of punishment. Instead, the youngster is taught that expressing emotions is okay – but not in an inappropriate way. The cooling-off time provides times for reflection so he can calm down and decide on a more effective way to express himself.

9. It's OK to Say “No”— It is sometimes believed that saying no too often can squelch a youngster's self-esteem, creativity, or confidence, yet the opposite is more often the case. There isn't any need for apology or guilt when "no" is needed. One of the most common pitfalls moms and dads suffer is vagueness of language. Parents don't have to be mean, just clear.

10. Manage Parental Stress— Do what you can to reduce stress by dealing with temper. Deal with your own feelings on a regular basis so you can keep an even disposition with kids. Keep the number of issues to be corrected close to one (1). Trying to tackle multiple issues at once creates confusion and frustration. Develop a poor memory for the bad times – and a great memory for the good times.

11. Monitor Your Success— Keep a journal of successes and challenges, and jot down strategies and solutions. Forgive yourself when you mess up.

12. Use Humor— Remember to carry the emotional first-aid kit of humor at all times. It will help the whole family through the rough spots of daily life. Moms and dads can model the skill of not taking things too seriously. Modeling humor is one of the most effective methods for parenting assertively.

My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

The Art of Negotiating with Teens

As a mother of father of an adolescent, you have the challenge of setting limits on your adolescent’s behaviors to ensure his/her safety. At the same time, you have the challenge of permitting your adolescent freedom to explore his/her ideas and experiences. Sometimes it is hard for a parent to know how much to “hold on” and how much to “let go.” Make clear to your adolescent this message: “With freedom comes responsibility.” As you and your adolescent negotiate new privileges, you also need to negotiate new responsibilities.

Your adolescent still needs your help learning how to determine which rules and decisions are the best ones for him/her and for others. Often, there is more than one way to cook a meal, clean a room, or organize one’s day. But moms and dads and adolescents may not see eye-to-eye on how these - and other day-to-day activities - should be done. Disagreement results. As bad as it can feel, some disagreement between a parent and teen is good, because working out disagreements provides valuable learning opportunities for adolescents and can actually strengthen parent-teen relationships. One way for moms and dads and adolescents to work out their differences is through collaborative problem solving.

The negotiation process will be most effective when both parent and adolescent take time to think through what they will say. When possible, plan ahead to meet at a place and time that is convenient for everyone. A quiet, neutral spot where there are few distractions or interruptions is best for open discussion.

Recognize the changes an adolescent is experiencing with social, emotional, intellectual and physical development. These changes may appear as an adolescent strives for independence, experiences hormonal changes and develops thought processes. Understanding the general characteristics of development for each age helps moms and dads effectively negotiate with their adolescent.

Common areas for negotiation with adolescents are:
  • Chores
  • Clothing
  • Convenience
  • Grades
  • Money
  • Recreation
  • Social manners
  • Transportation

Topics included in negotiation are chosen based on the youngster's skill level and maturity level. The frequency of negotiation increases as a youngster grows older. During late adolescence, almost all rules may be negotiated, with the parent maintaining a few rules that won't be negotiated. The adolescent is trying to break the walls to independence and may push against some of these rules.

What does negotiating involve?

1. Start with patient and active listening. “What is my son saying?” “What point is my daughter making?”

2. Negotiating requires the ability to recognize the legitimacy of another point of view. “Maybe I was wrong on the facts.” “Maybe I didn't have the full picture.”

3. Parents need the insight to perceive how important this issue is to their youngster. Prioritize it. Rate it on a scale of 1 to 10.

4. It's crucial to have the clarity to determine which issues you’re prepared to go to the mat for. There should be very few.

5. Most of all, parents need the courage and confidence to say, "I've changed my mind." Why? Either your adolescent made a persuasive argument and you respect his/her point of view, or your adolescent presented you with new information that significantly altered the situation, or you appreciate that this is much more important to your youngster than it is to you. Changing your mind does not a diminishment of your role as a mom or dad. It enhances rather than decreases your youngster's respect for you – and it paves the way for future open discussions.

Negotiating House-Rules—

1. Consider your adolescent's point of view. Listen to what your adolescent is saying about the rules. If she disagrees, let her know that you will listen and take seriously what she is saying. If you are willing to listen to her objections and consider what she is proposing, she will be more apt to negotiate. Negotiating up front is better than sneaking behind your back.

2. Be clear. Let your youngster know which rules are negotiable – and which are not. For example, negotiable rules may include curfew, allowance or chores. Non-negotiable rules include such things as driving without a seat belt, school attendance and drinking.

3. Explain the reasons behind the rules. When adolescents understand why the guidelines have been established in the first place, they will be more willing to negotiate new rules and take your concerns into consideration. When adolescents know what you are worried about, they are more likely to think about their actions. An open dialogue not only increases cooperation, it creates a teachable moment. Talking about the reasons behind the rules encourages cooperation by increasing understanding.

4. Encourage adolescents to present their point of view. Adolescents who can present a reasonable argument about why they think the rules should be changed are developing good judgment. Thinking about the rules goes along with deciding how to behave.

5. Talk about consequences. Adolescents often think, "That won't happen to me." Talking about the possible consequences in advance helps the adolescent plan in advance. Don't threaten. Give the information and state the facts, but don't threaten. That way your adolescent can think their behavior through and change directions before something happens.

6. Take past behavior into consideration. When negotiating rules with your adolescent, consider past behavior. If he is meeting his responsibilities and making good decisions, it is likely that he will be able to handle the change in the rule effectively. Give adolescents credit for the good choices they've been making.

7. Choose battles carefully. Give your adolescent more leeway as she shows maturity in judgment. Don't argue, fight or enforce rules that are outdated. Give your adolescent room to grow and expand. Let her have more “say.”

8. Respect their opinion. Adolescents are more likely to cooperate when given a voice in the matters that affect them.

Negotiating Curfew—

Setting a time for curfew on a school night is an example of how to negotiate something between parent and teen. Here are some guidelines:

1. Parent says what she wants to happen. Start by suggesting what you see as a reasonable curfew.

2. Adolescent shares his reaction without saying yes or no to the request or suggestion.

3. Ask your adolescent to suggest a curfew time.

4. Each person then says any problems with the other's suggestions. If he accepts your suggestion, you are done. If he suggests a later curfew than you did, then (a) repeat his suggestion to show you listened, (b) do not say "no” or “yes" to his suggestion, (c) express your concerns with his curfew suggestion (e.g., not sure that would work because he has a hard time getting up for school on time), and (d) ask what his thoughts are.

5. Both adolescent and parent think of solutions to the problems raised. If still no agreement, then brainstorm solutions. For example, maybe a compromise can work (e.g., earlier than his suggestion and later than yours; slightly later curfew on weekends, but keep earlier curfew on school nights; earlier curfew, but later bedtime; accept later curfew on the condition that it be changed to earlier time if he has difficulty getting up or is tired at school).

6. If agreement, negotiation is over. If no agreement, try to find a compromise. Encourage selection of an option both of you can live with.

7. If no compromise possible, then state differing positions as objectively and respectfully as possible and set a time to discuss the issue again in the near future. If you just cannot agree on the curfew, agree to keep the same curfew as before and set specific time for talking about it again (e.g., on the weekend, after supper the next night, etc.).

Summary—

1. Explain your position as calmly and simply as possible.
2. Listen, and be sure you understand the other person's point of view.
3. Don't make demands, lecture or bring up old grudges.
4. Suggest and discuss some options you can both live with.
5. If all else fails, take a break or agree to disagree.

My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

Does your child have ADHD?

If you suspect that your youngster has ADHD, it might help to ask yourself some questions about his/her behavior. In fact, if you've talked with your doctor about your youngster's behavior, your doctor may have already asked you some of these questions:

1. Am I primarily angry with my youngster or am I primarily frustrated? It's normal for moms and dads to get irritated and even to get angry with their kids from time to time. Most moms and dads can sense when their kids misbehave on purpose. The hyperactivity of kids with ADHD is irritating, but moms and dads can sense that their youngster simply can't (as opposed to won't) sit still or quiet down. This is frustrating.

2. Can my youngster stick to activities, or is the house littered with a trail of unfinished games and projects? Kids with ADHD often lose interest in an activity in five minutes or less. They go from one activity to another. You may ask your youngster many times to clean up, but he/she will not even be able to focus long enough to do that!

3. Has disciplining my youngster worked? Moms and dads of ADHD kids usually have "tried everything" …from ignoring their youngster's misbehavior …to "time-outs" …to spanking – but nothing seems to work.

4. How long has my youngster been too active? Hyperactive ADHD kids have had problems with hyperactive, impulsive behavior since before age six. Mothers of ADHD kids sometimes even remember that their baby was hyperactive in the womb. Also, kids with ADHD are often described by their moms and dads as being fussy and difficult to quiet in infancy. Sustained restlessness, even when eating or at bedtime, is characteristic of these kids.

5. Is my youngster's restlessness and impulsivity a problem in several different settings? ADHD is less likely to be present if your youngster only shows behavioral problems at home, but not in other places (e.g., school, grocery store, etc.). ADHD problems often become worse in settings where there is more activity and noise.

6. My youngster can watch cartoons on television for a long time. Does this rule out ADHD? Kids with ADHD are often able to keep their attention on the fast-paced world of cartoons and video games. If your youngster's attention stays glued to the screen for programs such as cartoons, suspect ADHD. Often, such kids will keep their eyes on the screen, but will be constantly fidgeting their legs and arms.

7. When my youngster is misbehaving, is he off in a world of his own or is he looking over his shoulder to see if I'm watching him? Kids with ADHD can’t control at least some of their hyperactive, impulsive behavior. Suspect ADHD if your youngster appears "off in a world of his own" and does not respond to you when, for example, he is climbing on a table, jumping on the sofa or misbehaving in some other way. Kids who misbehave on purpose often will look over their shoulders to see how grown-ups react to their misbehavior. You can tell by the look on your youngster's face.

It might be hard for your doctor to tell if your youngster has ADHD, particularly if he is not hyperactive. For this reason, the doctor may want you and your youngster to see someone who has a great deal of experience working with ADD/ADHD (since there are many conditions that can look like ADD/ADHD). Many kids with ADHD aren't hyperactive, and those who are may not be hyperactive in the doctor's office. Information about your youngster's behavior needs to be collected from different people who know him/her, including your youngster's teachers or anyone else who is familiar with his/her behavior.

Kids with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, may have signs of hyperactive behavior, a lack of attention and difficulty concentrating.

Signs of hyperactive behavior:

• Always "on the go"
• Always playing too loudly
• Blurting out answers to questions in school
• Cutting in line or unable to wait for a turn in activities
• Fidgeting and restlessness, almost constantly
• Interrupting others
• Not sitting in the same seat for any length of time
• Running or climbing inappropriately
• Talking too much

Signs of a lack of attention:

• Appearing disorganized
• Appearing very distractible
• Being forgetful
• Being unable to plan ahead effectively
• Difficulty following instructions
• Frequently losing things needed for school or at home
• Not being able to focus attention on activities
• Not being able to pay attention to details
• Not seeming to listen to moms and dads or teachers

Most kids with ADHD show signs of both hyperactivity and attention problems. Some kids, though, may have only signs of inattention. They may have trouble concentrating and paying attention, but they may not show signs of hyperactivity. This kind of problem used to be called attention-deficit disorder (ADD). ADD is now thought of as a form of ADHD.

My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

Top 20 Parenting Mistakes When Raising Teens

The truth is this: parenting adolescents is just plain tough! In this post, we will discuss the “top 20 parenting mistakes” that are commonly made by moms and dads today – and what they can do to correct these parenting mistakes.

Top 20 Parenting Mistakes When Raising Teens

1. Parents are not always approachable. Take an interest in what your youngster is up to and make this a two-way conversation by sharing bits of your own day with him. Also, never interrogate a youngster about where he has been and what he has been up to. By making this a normal part of everyday life, your youngster will then feel relaxed and confident about approaching you when he has a problem or needs advice.

2. Parents assume that educating is someone else's responsibility. All too often it is assumed that it is the role of the schools to not simply teach your adolescent reading and writing, but also all about the dangers of drugs, drinking, pre-marital sex and anything else you care to mention. This is not the case! The responsibility for educating your kids rests firmly at your door and, while the schools can certainly be extremely helpful to you in fulfilling this role, it is still up to you to sit down with your kids and talk to them about drugs, drinking, sex and everything else they will need to equip them for adult life.

3. Parents assume that good grades mean that all is well. Many moms and dads make the mistake of assuming that if an adolescent is doing well at school, then everything must be fine. A bright kid may however have little difficulty maintaining good grades, and knowing that this will keep you off his back gives him the opportunity to go out drinking, experiment with drugs, or anything else he chooses. Good grades are nothing more than an indication that the student is making satisfactory progress academically.

4. Parents cushion their kids from feeling certain emotions. Life is an emotional roller-coaster, and kids need to learn to handle emotions. For example, if your youngster has done something wrong and perhaps hurt somebody else in the process, then he should feel guilty. Experiencing emotions such as guilt and learning how to deal with them and to overcome them is a healthy part of growing up.

5. Parents don’t choose their battles wisely. Adolescents will always want to do things that you do not agree with, but you do more harm than good if life becomes a constant battleground. If Michael wants to grow his hair long, then it's not the end of the world – and it can always be cut short again later. However, if Sarah wants to get a tattoo, which she is going to have to live with for the rest of her life, then this is probably a battle worth fighting.

6. Parents don’t give adolescents some room to explore. Adolescents need to learn to stand on their own two feet, and that means allowing them an increasing degree of independence as time goes on. This does not mean that you should not keep an eye on them and steer them in the right direction, but do not be too quick to jump in.

7. Parents don’t have a set of rules and a system of discipline. Moms and dads need to first come to agreement themselves on the rules for their adolescents and the appropriate punishment for breaking these rules so that they are both reading from the same page. Thereafter, teens should clearly know and understand the rules so that there is no surprise when they find themselves being disciplined for infringing them.

8. Parents don’t have a system for staying informed. Adolescents need to have a degree of freedom, but you also need to have the peace of mind of knowing where they are and that they are safe. It is important to set up some sort of system for them to keep in touch with you and to get into the habit of, for example, calling when they are out for the evening to let you know that all is well.

9. Parents don’t invite their kid's friends to the house. Most moms and dads will have experienced their adolescents spending time with friends that you don't approve of, but almost as many parents make this judgment without ever having actually met these peers. There is also more than a little truth in the old saying that you should keep your friends close and your enemies even closer.

10. Parents don’t talk to their kids about risks. Nowadays adolescents are surrounded by temptation, and this very often brings with it considerable risk so, whether it's drugs, drinking and driving, premarital sex or anything else, your kids need to have their eyes opened for them before they venture out alone.

11. Parents don’t teach their kids how to deal risk. Having opened an adolescent’s eyes to the risks of the modern world, it is important that you also equip them to deal with those risks. For example, if the only way to get home from a party appears to be to climb into a car with a drunken friend, then they need to know not only that this is a risk which they are not to take, but that they can call you whatever the time to come and pick them up.

12. Parents don't follow through with consequences. The majority of moms and dads do not have any problem with laying down a set of rules for their adolescents and coming up with suitable consequences, but all too many have difficulty when it comes to enforcing the rules or handing out consequences. Your adolescent needs to be given boundaries and, perhaps more importantly, he needs to know that there will be disciplinary measures imposed if he breeches these boundaries. You are not doing your adolescent any favors if you end up teaching him that rules don't really matter and that it is okay to simply break them whenever he feels like it.

13. Parents don't keep up with modern teen behavior. It's only natural for you to look at your adolescent's development and compare it to your own days as an adolescent. But adolescents today are very different, and the changes from one generation to the next can be frightening. Take some time to educate yourself about modern adolescent life not simply by talking regularly with your adolescent kids, but also by looking at teen magazines, television and of course the internet. Some things will be seen as positive developments and others as negative but, whatever the changes, it is important to understand that this is the world in which your adolescents and their peers are growing up.

14. Parents expect only positive results. All too often we expect our kids to be well behaved and to achieve good grades in school and so do not praise good behavior or good results. At the same time we are all too quick to jump in and react to bad behavior or poor results. Kids do of course need to be disciplined for bad behavior and poor grades (assuming that their poor grades are the result of their own laziness), but they also need to be given praise for good results.

15. Parents forget that they are role models. Kids learn more by example than in any other fashion and your words and, more importantly, your actions will be extremely influential for your youngster's development.

16. Parents give in too quickly. Adolescents are very good when it comes to getting what they want and can be extremely creative when it comes to working out how to get you to say 'yes'. They will also rarely take 'no' for an answer first time out and will keep on you until they get their way. Let your adolescents play this game as it is part of the learning process, but hold your ground and be consistent. At the end of the day if the answer needs to be 'no' – then don't back down.

17. Parents ignore the need for family time. Because we all lead busy lives these days, it is often difficult to fit everything in and one of the first things to go is often family time. Setting aside some time every day for the family to eat together and to talk is essential to provide your kids with the opportunity to get advice, encouragement and feedback from you and for you to see whether everything is well or if there are problems looming on the horizon. Even if you cannot spare a great deal of time, 20 or 30 minutes sitting down to an evening meal as a family can be invaluable.

18. Parents ignore the obvious. When your adolescent suddenly starts doing such things as sleeping in, missing classes and missing curfew, you might be tempted to simply write it off as normal adolescent behavior. But could there be more to it than that? You don't want to over-react, but don't under-react either. If there is a problem now is the time to root it out. So, don't bury your head in the sand and wait for things to blow up in your face.

19. Parents lecture rather than discuss. If the adolescent is going to develop into a responsible grown-up who is capable of making decisions, then you need to teach him just how to go about making decisions. All too often it is easier to simply tell an adolescent what to do (and what not to do) rather than to take the time to sit down and discuss the options, pointing out the pros and cons, and showing them how to choose the right path. Not only does this not help your adolescent to develop the skills he needs, but it also often leads to unnecessary confrontation.

20. Parents set unreasonable goals. An important part of an adolescent's development is learning to set goals and then constructing a plan to achieve them. This means that you also need to set goals for your adolescent and teach and encourage him to meet them. However, if you set goals that are unrealistic, then you are simply setting your adolescent up to fail. Thus, be reasonable in your expectations.

My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

Articles

Parenting Rebellious Teens

One day you wake up and find that life has changed forever. Instead of greeting you with a hug, your little boy rolls his eyes when you say "good morning" and shouts, "You're ruining my life!" You may think you've stepped into the Twilight Zone, but you've actually been thrust into your son's teen years.

During adolescence, teens start to break away from parents and become "their own person." Some talk back, ignore rules and slack off at school. Others may sneak out or break curfew. Still others experiment with alcohol, tobacco or drugs. So how can you tell the difference between normal teen rebellion versus dangerous behavior? And what's the best way for a parent to respond?

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Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

Many families of defiant children live in a home that has become a battleground. In the beginning, the daily struggles can be expected. After all, we knew that problems would occur. Initially, stress can be so subtle that we lose sight of a war, which others do not realize is occurring. We honestly believe that we can work through the problems.

Outbursts, rages, and strife become a way of life (an emotionally unhealthy way of life). We set aside our own needs and focus on the needs of our children. But what does it cost us?

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The Strong-Willed Out-of-Control Teen

The standard disciplinary techniques that are recommended for “typical” teenagers do not take into account the many issues facing teens with serious behavioral problems. Disrespect, anger, violent rages, self-injury, running away from home, school failure, hanging-out with the wrong crowd, drug abuse, theft, and legal problems are just some of the behaviors that parents of defiant teens will have to learn to control.

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