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How to Discipline Overly-Rebellious Adolescents

By the time they are adolescents, your kids should have a pretty good idea of what to expect in terms of parental goals and behavior limits. But even the well-trained youngster may be tempted to push boundaries or be led astray by friends to do something he shouldn't.

When that happens, a mother or father cannot afford to sit back and pretend that nothing has happened, hoping that it never occur again. Instead, you must be vigilant and take action to reinforce all that you have taught your children already from the time they were toddlers. Don't give in to their wheedling or your own time constraints. Take the necessary time now to train your adolescents properly, and that will mean issuing appropriate discipline.

The art of adolescent discipline falls into three categories:

The first is training or guidance. We discipline our children when we set household rules, place limits on their behavior (such as curfews), and monitor their social activities with friends. Moms and dads who fail to provide these boundaries and guidelines are not doing their duty by their kids. Children need to know what they can and cannot do, and most appreciate the security of parents who keep watch and respond accordingly. That is why you must know what your children do, when, and with whom. Until they turn eighteen, adolescents remain their parents' responsibility.

The second category involves incentives and rewards. Teens enjoy challenges and meeting goals; sometimes they see the opportunity to perform for a reward as a form of competition with themselves or with siblings or peers. When they do well in school, in sports, or in bypassing a temptation, moms and dads need to notice and congratulate them, as well as occasionally issue an affectionate acknowledgement of the adolescent's success. This may take the form of verbal praise, a home-made or purchased certificate of congratulations, or a tangible reward involving a gift or cash bonus. Research shows that anyone who receives rewards for doing well is more likely to continue doing so.

The third part of discipline centers on punishments or natural consequences. When adolescents fail to do their homework, they may not be able to pass a test, thus earning a natural negative consequence of the chosen action. Or if they stay up late, they may miss the school bus and end up with a tardy or absence on their record. But some behaviors are not so cut and dried in terms of consequences. For example, if an adolescent smokes a cigarette, he will not get lung cancer the next day. Or if he gets drunk with friends, he may not get caught.

When a mother or father finds out that a youngster has overstepped his boundaries, betrayed a parent's trust, or disregarded a household rule, it is the adult's responsibility to issue a consequence. Grounding works well for many adolescents. This can take the form of losing the privilege of going out with friends for a few days or a week or two. Or it can mean that the adolescent loses the right to use family appliances like the television, the telephone, the computer, or the VCR for a period of time. Moms and dads should impose a limit that as closely as possible fits the infraction, although this is not always possible.

Don't fail to follow up on your adolescent's good and bad behaviors. They depend on parents to be there and be aware. Without authoritative guidance, they will continue to make needless mistakes, some of which can be life-altering. So let them know you care by instituting fair-minded discipline to bring out their best qualities and help them develop character.

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents


Anonymous said...

Our 12 year old has had a pretty cushy and stable life. He has always had Mum or Dad available to help out at school, be available for holidays, has had only one sibling to deal with on a day to day basis. Has had overseas holidays, rides motorbikes, plays hockey and is a black tip in taekwondo (martial art).

Up until this year we had 2 children who squabbled and that was about it.
Around last Christmas I noticed Cameron to start withdrawing from activities he usually enjoyed with his Dad. Bike riding, fishing etc. He said he just wanted to be a mummy's boy!! So, we worked on this thinking he was judt going into teen stages a bit early and withdrawing.

By June we had an agressive and abusive 12 year old. He was lashing out at his Dad both verbally and physically. We began family counselling after having gone through medical and alternative medical agencies. Our councellor decided that to work on Cameron he needed to work through us as a family unit. This child has threatened to kill with lethal weapons (and been through the Police for this) threatened to comitt harm to himself and physically hurt his father hitting, punching and spitting.
He now has a councellor and I have had him assessed by a physcologist.
This morning he was meant to be going on school camp. I had organised to take him and help him carry his gear in before I went to work. INstead his Dad had a meeting in town so he said he would take the kids to school. Cameron began by refusing to accept his Dad would take him. I told him it was unreasonable and if we called him a taxi would he take this our on the driver also!!? He began to get agreesive towards me, then Roger (Dad) came on the scene and CAmeron drew out a knife from the cutlery drawer. Things escallated from here and the end was Dad sitting on Cameron to keep him from harming anyone. He was screaming and spitting. Roger gave him the phone and he called 111 emergency. He was screaming his Dad was beating him. It was a nightmare. I got on the other phone to reassure the comms operator that he was not being beaten. I had already called his grandfather who was on the way. Poppa arrived and so did the police. Cameron by this time had run outside in hysterics. Poppa took him home. He later went to councelling and called me to say he loved me and goodbye as Poppa was taking him to camp (arranged and OK'd by all of us). I'm telling you this as we feel like we have a child out of control but only at home. Everywhere else nobody believes us!!!! There must be someone else who has been through this and we would love to hear from them so we do not feel so helpless and alone.

Anonymous said...

Send me the free newsletter about "parenting out-of-control children and teens." I am a single father of two daughters 18 and 12, both of whom have been diagnosed with RAD. I am 8 years into the adoption. The girls are sisters both maternal and paternal. My 18 year old does quite well with college classes and my 12 year old is completely out of control. Please help me in ANY WAY you Can...

I am in tears,Steve

Anonymous said...

Hi Mark, my husband & I have just completed week 1 of your program. Thanks we are in crisis point at the moment with our 15 1/2 year old daughter and its wonderful to have a plan forward. As mentioned we are in crisis in that our daughter has been suspended from school 3 days ago & then run off - we know she is safe where she is but have decided to not chase after her & bring her home - we believe this is exactly how she would expect us to act as we have in the past.

Anonymous said...

I followed your online parenting course - in relation with my teenage daughter - a few months ago and was so impressed that I was then tempted to contact you to see if there would be any opportunity for me to promote your method in Europe. At the time, I was in full time employment and did not follow suit to my intentions. I was recently made redundant and you actually made contact on my last day with my previous company... A ex colleague and myself are looking into the the opportunity to develop a venture where we would work with schools to introduce a 'life skills' course for teenagers who find it hard to fit into the normal curriculum alongside 'parenting skills' courses for parents. We are working with a pilot college to have the new course accredited by the government. I would love the opportunity to hear your views on this and how we could work together to promote your methods in UK / Europe.
I look forward to hearing from you.

Anonymous said...

Hi, My name is Matt and I recently moved out of my childhood house. My dad passed away recently and my mom is raising my 2 nieces now alone, ages 10 and 12. The older child is OUT OF CONTROL. My mom goes to the school consoler, medical consoler, long story short, she has tried to get help. They all say that the 12 year old is a very special case and needs camp or something dramatic like that. Problem is, no one has resources for my mom. I think it has to do with her age being 12 and not many camps i have found take kids that young. My mom is 62, she doesn't need to deal with this and she is about to break. I firmly believe the stress the 12 year old causes was a major reason why my dad is no longer here with me, I dont want the same to happen to my mom.

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