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How to Give Your Teenager an Attitude Adjustment


Once a youngster reaches adolescence, many moms and dads may think it is too late to help him or her change a negative attitude. This is not the case, and while it may take longer, it is possible to help your youngster develop a positive attitude. Having a positive attitude is essential to your child’s happiness and success. A negative attitude can result in him or her feeling unloved, frustrated and easily led.

How to Give Your Teenager an Attitude Adjustment:

1. Avoid harsh criticism, especially if it includes humiliation and mockery. Sometimes it will be necessary to provide “constructive criticism” to your adolescent, and as a mother or father, you are right to do it. However, if the criticism is harsh, this will have a negative effect on the adolescent's attitude. The way you word constructive criticism is important. Using "I" instead of "you" statements is a good way to communicate with your child. For example, "I would like you to clean-up your room" is better than "You never pick up after yourself." The result should be the same; however, the first statement is more an opinion, whereas the second is negative and insulting.

2. Encourage your teen to do something good for herself. It could be going for a run, reading a book or seeing a movie with a friend.

3. Encourage your teen to take up new hobbies or pursue new interests. This gives him the opportunity to do something by himself and encourages him to work toward achievements. The fact you trust him to be independent will make him feel positive. Doing something he enjoys will also increase his confidence, especially if he receives any official recognition. Activities based on cooperation or working together rather than competition is also a good way to build a positive attitude.

4. Encourage your adolescent to display cards and gifts from friends. Re-reading cards or letters from good friends can remind her that plenty of people like her.

5. Encourage your adolescent to write down his good qualities. He should include qualities that others like about him, too.

6. Encourage your teenager to surprise someone else with a thoughtful gesture. She could take cookies to a new mother or an elderly neighbor. Delighting another person is always a good way to feel better about yourself.

7. Evaluate your own attitude. A youngster's attitude is a learned behavior. Adolescents watch their moms and dads and how they react to certain experiences and events. Kids learn a good portion of their belief system from their moms and dads. Therefore, a parent's attitude and a loving home environment are important to help develop positive attitudes in adolescents.

8. Give your teen a sincere compliment a few times each week – and don’t let her brush it off.

9. Let children know they're nearing the disrespectful zone with some pre-arranged signal. This red flag gives them a clear warning that more-drastic action will follow if they don't stop what they're doing, and, in public, it also allows them to save face in front their friends, which makes them more likely to be compliant than if you had barked out a direct order.

10. Let your adolescent select the chores for which he will be responsible. He should then pick something he doesn't mind doing and something that fits with his time schedule.

11. Offer leniency. If she has finals, give her a week off from her chores. Keep in mind that today's adolescents are often as strapped for time as we are.

12. Praise your child when he deserves it. Show him you appreciate him and recognize when he makes positive choices. Most adolescents will bask in their parent's praise, so be sure to give credit when credit is due. Your adolescent's attitude will be much more positive if you also show him respect as well as command it from him.

13. Set up a natural reminder system – a chart or a note left on the kitchen counter for the adolescent. Unemotional memory jogs will help him succeed at his chores.

14. If your youngster doesn’t respond to some of the more gentle methods, step-up your response. Spell out the consequences of breaking the rule beforehand, and make sure that you can – and do – follow through.

15. Teach the chore. You may think an adolescent has watched you run a garbage disposal a thousand times, but some of them won't have paid any attention.

16. Teach them how to do positive self-talk. This is the little voice in our heads which we use to communicate with ourselves. Positive self-talk will have a direct influence on how positive a person's attitude and actions are. Tell your adolescent instead of using negative statements, replace them with positive ones. For example, "I can do this right, I just need to concentrate" is much better than "I failed again, I never do anything right." If you promote positive self-talk you should notice a distinct change in the child’s attitude.

17. Teach your adolescent to aim high, while showing her how to acknowledge her limitations. There is no problem having dreams and aspirations, as long as they are realistic. If your adolescent wants to achieve the impossible, this will only make her feel negatively when she fails to do it. Unrealistic expectations are one of the biggest causes of negative attitudes in our kids.

18. Teach your adolescent how to laugh at himself. People who are too serious tend to find something negative in everything they do. Having a sense of humor will encourage positivity.

19. Understand that your teen is going through a difficult period of physical and emotional changes. Be patient as you help her learn to respect grown-ups and avoid growing weary or irritated if she slips up. Instead of growing angry if your teenager is disrespectful, use the moment as an opportunity to teach her further. Talk about ways she can respond the next time the issue comes up and talk about why she responded the way that she did.

20. Use the BAM method. BAM stands for (a) Build on strengths, (b) Awareness, and (c) Model:
  • Build On Strengths: In discussions with your teenagers, begin by building on the strengths that they have shown, the positive behaviors in which they have engaged, and how to improve the undesired behaviors.
  • Awareness: Talk with your teens at those times when they demonstrate behavior that is less then respectful. Showing them in the moment is most beneficial. 
  • Model: Show your teens how to respect by interacting respectfully with your spouse and with others.

My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

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