Greetings Mr. Hutten:
Currently completing an article on things that parents must tell their children before control becomes an unmanageable issue, I am seeking comments - to be ascribed - regarding discussions between parents and children - preteen and teen - about control that can be meaningful and productive to both sides on this important aspect of parenting.
Setting ground rules is one thing, but enforcing them fairly, and following them responsibly, are quite another. Control comes from both the top down and from the bottom up as the child will self-determine, rightly or otherwise, what kind and degree of control is just, how it should be followed and for how long, etc.
My question at the moment is, perhaps, where can things be nipped in the bud as far as the extent that parents and their children go in setting control and altering it appropriately over the course of the children's development?
When do obedience, wise counsel and independent evaluation safely get into the cross-hairs of both sides so that the right decision is made, or if there is confusion, that youth seek counsel with parents rather than peers?
Thank you in advance.
Frank G Anderson
My response is derived from my paradigm, which is (a) oppositional children cannot be controlled and (b) parents should spend their time controlling children's activities and material items rather than behavior.
Parents should neither discuss 'parenting matters' nor attempt to "reason with" their defiant children. To appeal to defiant children's logical mind is an exercise in futility due to the fact that most simply want things to go their way - they are not interested in comprise, negotiation or discussion.
Things are "nipped in the bud" [so to speak] by (a) stating parental expectations, (b) stating the consequence for violating expectations, and (c) following through with the consequence in the event expectations are not met. Lastly, all this must be done with no expression of emotion on the parent's part, because children will continue to "misbehave" when they receive a bigger payoff for misbehavior than they do for desired behavior.
When the parent reacts strongly to "misbehavior" (e.g., arguing, lecturing, threatening, rage, emotional discussions, etc.), the defiant child - who is a very "intensity-seeking" child - receives a highly satiating dose of intensity (i.e., negative attention, which is infinitely better than no attention) from the parent. Thus, misbehavior is once again reinforced.
Defiant children do not seek counsel from parents. Instead, they have fired their parents as managers. Parents can, however, be re-hired as "child-protectors" (i.e., parent's willingness to shift from trying to be the child's 'buddy' to doing whatever is in the best interest of the child) - but only by controlling what is controllable and leaving the 'uncontrollable' up to the children (i.e., children get to decide whether or not they lose freedom to engage in activities and/or access to their material items such as toys, games, media, cell phones, etc.).
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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