Is Your Teenager Smoking Marijuana?

Federal health officials say they’re alarmed by a sharp rise in cannabis (marijuana) use among American teenagers, blaming the increase on medical cannabis campaigns. The increase is particularly stark among 8th graders, suggesting that attitudes about the risks of cannabis may be becoming more relaxed in teens thinking about using drugs for the first time.

A recent national survey indicates that cannabis use in 8th, 10th, and 12th graders is up across the country. By some measures, the increase over the last year is 10% or more according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Cannabis use among teenagers has been on the way up over the last three years. But new data, taken from the 46,000-student “Monitoring the Future” survey, shows the increase is accelerating, particularly in younger children.

In all, about 1 in 16 high school seniors admits to daily pot use… 3% of 10th graders and 1% of 8th graders say they smoke pot at least four days a week. Meanwhile, 24% of teenagers say they’ve used cannabis in the past year – up from 21.5% three years ago. These numbers coincide with other data showing teenagers' perception of daily cannabis use as risky has been on the decline since 2008.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse blames teenagers’ loosening attitudes and increased use on the widespread debate over medical cannabis. The debate may have led to a perception among teenagers that cannabis is beneficial – not detrimental. Rising cannabis use was predictable since teenagers now view it as less risky than they did before.

Overall, last year’s illicit drug use was up among all age groups surveyed. About 1 in 10 eighth graders, 18.5% of 10th graders, and 23.8% of 12th graders acknowledge using illegal drugs during the past year. What makes these statistics especially alarming is the fact that the potency of cannabis has increased exponentially in the past 20 years.

Signs Your Teen Is Smoking Pot—

• Bloodshot eyes
• Cigarette rolling papers
• Dilated (large) pupils
• Pipes, bongs, homemade smoking devices (you may see sticky residue from burned marijuana)
• Reduced motivation
• Seeds that have been cleaned from marijuana
• Sleepy appearance
• Smell on clothing, in room, or in car

Cannabis is usually smoked using cigarette rolling papers, water bong, or a makeshift bong that can be made from a variety of items. Generally it can be difficult to recognize cannabis use if you don't see your teenagers after smoking when they are still experiencing the effects of the drug.

Tips for Parents--

1. Explain to your teen that you do not want an illegal substance in your home – nor do you want your teen or his friends smoking in your home, because YOU could get charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

2. Express your disapproval of your teen’s pot smoking in a calm, firm manner, without hysterics or unreasonable threats. You do not approve of this and will not condone it. You understand you cannot control his behavior, that if he chooses to smoke, you can't really stop him – but you will set some firm rules about this. For example, if you suspect he is breaking the rule by bringing marijuana into the house, he is to understand that his right to privacy in his room will be suspended and that periodic room searches will take place (backpacks may also be searched).

3. For some teenagers, smoking pot is purely a social activity, not unlike having a few beers with their buddies when they are hanging-out on a weekend night. Neither of these activities is acceptable, but it identifies it as the less risky “recreational use.”

4. If your teenager has his license, remind him that the same rule about drinking and not driving applies to smoking pot and driving. The research is very clear that it delays reaction times and, therefore, increases the risk of accidents.

5. If your teenager is saying things like “I’m going to do what I want – and you can't stop me,” then at least he’s being open about what he’s doing. This openness demonstrates a level of trust and honesty that is important to recognize and communicate. Parents can respond with, "I don't like what you are saying, but I’m glad you’re being honest with me." Despite the rebelliousness, your teen’s declaration that he is going to smoke pot does provide an opportunity for discussion.

6. Look for signs that use is turning into abuse (i.e., your teen's behavior or personality is changing in negative ways). If you begin to believe that your teenager is developing a serious addiction, then you can take much stronger steps (e.g., involving police, requiring routine drug testing, insisting on individual and family counseling with a specialist in substance abuse).

7. Often times, when teens are openly defiant about drug use or sexual activity, they are really asking for some limits to be imposed.

8. One good question to pose is "How would you know when it's not a good thing to do?" This is easily asked when your teenager is quick to point out he is not an “addict” like his friend who's “always high.’ This part of the discussion will touch on how often he actually uses marijuana and under what circumstances. It also clarifies his ability to acknowledge that there are risks of addiction – and can he tell the difference? For example, is your teenager aware that a chronic pot smoker (i.e., one who smokes daily for a month or more) typically becomes depressed when he stops using? Is your teen aware that research has shown that teenagers who smoke pot on a regular basis usually get their driver's license significantly later than non-users?

9. One of the most frequent driving forces behind marijuana use is when it is a form of self-medication. Teenagers who have undiagnosed ADHD often smoke marijuana to calm down. The depressed teenager often smokes marijuana to shut down negative thoughts and feelings. If there is an underlying problem driving the marijuana use, it is important for parents to identify the problem and encourage getting help for that problem.

10. Open-up and maintain a line of communication that is based on accurate information about the risks involved with drug abuse and encourage your teenager to make good decisions. The psychological capacity to be self-aware and make good decisions is really much more important than whether or not your teen smokes marijuana for a period of his life.

11. Part of the challenge in talking to your teen about drugs is finding those occasional moments when he/she is actually in the mood to talk. Usually driving somewhere together is one of the best times. Also, it is better to have only one parent involved in the conversation so it doesn't feel like a 2-on-1 discussion.

12. Remind your teen that employers now routinely drug test all applicants. Your teenager may be very disappointed when he gets fired from his part-time job because of a positive drug screen. Traces of marijuana remain in the system for about a month, and it is not as easy to hide as commonly thought.

13. Remind your teen that he can be arrested for using drugs – it's no fun to end-up on probation and to have to do community service.

14. Try to understand what your teenager is actually experiencing, and to try to engage her/him in a helpful dialogue. Hold back on your lectures and threats. Instead, approach your teen as the expert and ask for a greater understanding. Good questions to ask might be as follows:
  • How much does it cost these days?
  • I understand that the current weed is much stronger than what was around in my day. Is that true?
  • Is it easy to get pot?
  • What are the benefits to you?
  • What different types of pot are out there now?
  • What is it like when you get high?
  • Why do you like to get high?

15. It is important to know who your teenager is smoking pot with – friends or acquaintances. Smoking with friends suggests that the drug use is recreational (you may be surprised to learn that some of your teenager's friends that you like and thought were positive influences are smoking pot as well). Smoking with acquaintances (i.e., peers your teen hangs-out with for the sole purpose of getting high) suggests that your teen is beginning to be influenced by some other teenagers that may be more of a fringe group who don't share the values you and your teenager have discussed as important. If there is such a shift taking place – that in itself becomes an important topic for exploration. Questions to find answers to would be:
  • Are his former friends "not cool" because they don't get high?
  • Has his old group moved beyond him in some way?
  • Why is he distancing himself from his usual social group?

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

How To Control The Uncontrollable Child: 30 Tips For Parents Who Are At Their Wits End

Parents struggle with the appropriate ways to deal with the misbehavior of a youngster. When all of the efforts have produced little results, what is the next step? Experts suggest that there are three areas that need to be examined before further action is taken. Ask yourself:

• How am I handling the misbehavior?
• What specific tools can I find to help me in this situation?
• Why is the youngster misbehaving?

Kids have their own temperaments, personalities and individual ways of reacting to authority. When rules and limits are placed upon kids they may test the rules to the limit to find out how far their independence can go. The expectations set for them by moms and dads may be too strict or too lenient and the kids may resort to misbehavior to gain the attention not gained when behavior is good or as normally expected.

Toddlers begin the journey to independence with the establishment of the word "no." Pre-schoolers and school-age kids seek limits by testing what authority will allow and what they can get away with. A certain amount of defiance is expected, and healthy, as kids establish their own independence. Each situation will differ in terms of circumstances, personalities and responsibilities. 

How Parents Can Make Discipline More Effective—

1. Decide if you need outside assistance. If prolonged or acutely severe behavior problems continue to exist after recommended intervention is attempted, then professional help is advised. Determine what services are available in your community through the school system, mental health centers, support groups, etc. Take advantage of services appropriate for your needs.

2. Distraction can be an effective tool in redirecting attention from something that they want to do (that is inappropriate) to something that is appropriate. For example, if a youngster wants to jump on the lounge, suggest going outside and jumping on the trampoline (to allow them to jump appropriately) or going for a walk to the park (fulfilling the desire to be physically active), or even something completely unrelated like making play dough (this can be less effective if the youngster wants to physically unwind). The closer your alternative is to what they are wanting, the more likely you are to succeed in changing their focus. The key is to make the distraction sound as enticing and exciting as possible, and you don't want to draw attention to the undesired activity (you are trying to make them forget about that!).

3. Education is a disciplinary technique. Use education as a direct consequence of misbehavior. Education is an opportunity to move your youngster to “thoughtful” from his normal stance as “thoughtless.” In many cases, a youngster's misbehavior is based in ignorance. Racial slurs, or physically risky behavior (e.g., smoking, driving too fast), can often be corrected easier and more effectively by a specifically educational response than by other forms of discipline (e.g., scolding, making rules). Education is not about lecturing, and since your youngster may not be open to hearing the truth from you, an educational consequence may be best imposed by another adult he respects.

4. Establish some home rules. All family members old enough to participate can be involved in establishing home rules and consequences for violation of the rules. Holding family meetings to establish and regularly review and "update" rules is effective and helps to keep all family members informed and involved. Be sure to share these rules with others providing care to your kids (relatives, care givers, etc.) so they will also know what the expectations are and actions they should take when kids misbehave.

5. Get the youngster's attention. Make eye contact with the youngster before a command is issued. Yelling from across the room will not be effective.

6. Hiring a substitute. A youngster may choose to "hire" someone to do his chore (e.g., by paying a wage of $1.00, or mutually agree to trade chores).

7. Patiently show the youngster the "right way" to behave or do a chore.

8. Perhaps the simplest and most effective way of changing a youngster's behavior is to let her know that you disapprove of it. State your objections clearly, and give reasons. “I don't like it when you hit your younger brother. It's cruel and thoughtless, and I want my kids to be kind and compassionate.” When your youngster hears your disappointment or disapproval, she may shape up. Disapproval works when it is stated clearly. Don't nag, rub it in, carry on, or hold disapproval as a grudge. Children can hear a complaint or disapproval once – more than once erases the message from their little brains and closes their ears. Your disapproval needs to be expressed with conviction and passion, but without fury.

9. Post a list of jobs that need to be done (e.g., washing the car, weeding the garden, etc.). Let the youngster choose a "work detail" as a way to "make up" for rule violations. This is especially effective for kids 6 years and older.

10. Rearrange space. Try creative solutions. If clothes and toys are left lying about, have baskets and lower hooks for easier cleanup. If school notes and homework are misplaced, assign a special table or counter for materials. If chores are forgotten, post a chart with who does what when.

11. Redirect behavior. Substitute a positive behavior for one that's a problem (e.g., drawing on walls, have paper available; throwing sand, use a ball for throwing; trouble taking turns, add another toy or have them help an adult (to satisfy this need for power).

12. Remain in authority. Stick to your guns. Don't get talked out of your feelings or your reasons for issuing the command and don't let the youngster wear you down.

13. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Many times we speak before we think and make demands that we can't follow through with (e.g., "If you cut your toes off with the lawn mower, don't come running to me." … "If you don't clean up the dishes, you won't have dinner for a month"). Don't say something that you can't follow through with. Think about the consequence of certain behaviors before expressing them. Also consider if and how you will be able to administer the consequence. Follow through your command with immediate consequences or rewards for the youngster's behavior.

14. Send a warning. Your child starts acting out, and the first thing you do is warn her: “Cut it out or I'll take that paint brush away,” or “I'm counting to 10. One, two, three...”. In many cases, bingo! End of misbehavior! Warnings are not the same as threats. Threats are threatening; warnings simply put the youngster on alert that the behavior needs to stop, now, or there will be consequences. The best warnings clearly state the limit and the related consequence. Warnings only work if your youngster believes that you'll follow through. Be careful not to cry wolf. Be prepared for your youngster to call your bluff. The moms and dads who are the most successful with warnings are the ones who aren't afraid to follow through on each and every warning. Be consistent – it provides security for your youngster, and ensures that you'll be listened to.

15. Set expectations. Don't ask the youngster to follow a command. Remind the youngster that you expect him or her to behave in certain ways. Explain what behavior is acceptable and what is not acceptable and what the consequences will be.

16. Strive for consistency. Confronting the behavior, when it occurs, giving the reason it is not acceptable, and following through with the consequence on a consistent basis is the most effective way to change the misbehavior. If we are not consistent, in disciplining a youngster, the youngster will believe it is all right to act this way sometimes, and continue the misbehavior on occasion.

17. Take away privileges. Match the removal of the privilege to the action taken as closely as possible (e.g., fighting over TV results in loss of TV time). Take away the privilege for a short period. If it lasts too long, resentment builds, the youngster forgets the infraction and the lesson is lost.

18. Take care of your mental health. Go out and have fun. If you don’t take care of you, you will not be able to take care of your youngster.

19. Take it one step at a time. Even when you have tried everything, having the right attitude will increase the youngster's self-esteem and offer the limits in a loving way. Chances are that if the behavior worsens, the modification is working. You are tightening the reins and they feel threatened. It will get better with consistent application.

20. Tie what you want to what they need (e.g., when you pick up your toys, then you can watch TV; when you come home from school on time, then you can have a friend over).

21. Use a firm voice. Give commands in a firm controlled voice and with an authoritative manner. Don't make it a game for the youngster to guess if you mean it or not.

22. Use a Point System. Give points for good behavior and take away points for bad behavior. In some households, accumulated "points" are traded in for rewards. In others, privileges are based on behavior, and dropping below a certain point level may cause a loss of privileges. Be careful that the youngster doesn't start to do things only for the points rather than because it's a nice thing to do.

23. Use a Reward System. Intended as a supplement for other methods of discipline, the reward system relies on you going out of your way to praise positive behavior (e.g., thank your youngster for helping with something, comment on how nice and quiet your youngster has been for the last half hour, etc.). It's very easy to overlook when your youngster is being good, but it is generally all the times he or she is not being bad.

24. Use logical consequences. Let the consequence make the point (e.g., misuse a toy, lose use of the toy for a period of time; write on the wall with crayons, wash it off; miss a curfew, lose same amount of time from the next outing).

25. Use natural consequences. The basic concept behind this method is to let nature run its course when appropriate (e.g., If your youngster leaves his toy outside it may get lost or ruined … If your youngster leaves his umbrella at school, he will get wet the next time it rains … If your youngster forgets her lunch, she goes hungry until she gets home).

26. Use positive discipline, which is a technique that sees misbehavior as an opportunity for teaching new behaviors (e.g., after your youngster has learned her toy is ruined, you could show her how to organize her things). Also, set positive examples in the way you, the parent, act, and eliminate negative language. So instead of saying, "don't do that", provide some direction by saying, "Why don't you do this instead."

27. Use separation and replacement. Children squabbling over an object? Take it away. If you separate a youngster from an object, make sure you replace the activity with something productive. Putting the Nintendo on a high shelf without giving the children something else to do will only leave them: (a) bored and ready to cause more trouble, and (b) empty-handed-they'll have to fight each other. Only separate a youngster from an object when the object is related to the misbehavior.

28. Use time-outs. Time-outs separate a youngster from a situation in order to “break” the action and reset it on a new track. Time-outs take the youngster out of an environment that is reinforcing the negative behavior. For school age children, time-outs shouldn't always be timed, they should allow the youngster enough time to change his mood on his own. A time-out is over once the mood has been changed or the youngster has calmed down and regained self-control. Let the youngster determine when a time-out is over (she needs to learn to determine her own moods and rhythms). Don't threaten time-outs, and don't think of them as punishments (“Hit me again and I'll put you in a time-out!”). They're meant to be used as an immediate, brief cooling-off period. Time-outs are designed to remove a youngster from an environment where she is getting gratification for her negative actions. When she returns, don't let her resume her activity. Let her know that her actions were unacceptable. Move her into a more positive situation, and give her positive reinforcement. Time-outs are most effective when a youngster needs help changing a mood. Moms and dads can take time-outs, too.

29. When something goes wrong, one of the best responses of all is usually to sit down and talk about it. Often, open communication is all that is needed to change behavior, or to make sure that a certain misbehavior doesn't happen again. You can talk with your youngster alone during special time or during family meetings. Use your discussions to point out natural consequences that might occur from the misbehavior. Children sometimes need help seeing the chain of events, and understanding why they happen.

30. When you're faced with mild, irritating misbehavior, sometimes the best response is to ignore it. Ignoring is a very active behavior; it doesn't mean just letting it slide and neglecting your youngster. Ignoring a behavior requires: (a) developing a poker face-a relaxed body, and straight, unimpressed face-and refuse to get riled by the annoying behavior; (b)making an active decision to ignore it; (c) paying attention silently while you are actively ignoring it. What kind of behavior can you ignore? Certainly, never anything dangerous or hurtful to the youngster, anybody else, or any object. Good types of behavior to ignore would include: nail biting, nose picking, tuneless humming, minor swearing, foot jiggling, gross jokes, and annoying laughs. Children often try out annoying behavior patterns, and the more attention that is paid, the worse the patterns get. Ignoring is gentle, and it works. It's based on the premise that, for your youngster, negative attention (pushing your buttons) will give him more satisfaction than will getting no attention.

==> JOIN Online Parent Support

How to Talk to a Defiant Teen: 25 Tips for Parents

No mother or father wants a defiant adolescent. Every parent wants a happy and responsible youngster who is part of a loving family. But so many adolescents have a “falling-out” with their parents. Defiant adolescent behavior is nothing new and will be around forever. But helping defiant adolescents is very much a reality. It has been done, it can be done, and you are in a position to make an unhappy youngster turn their defiant attitude/behavior into something generous and worthwhile.

So what can any parent do in this situation? Well professional help is clearly an option. You could start with counseling at your local mental health facility. Explain the situation and ask for advice. Counseling sessions with an expert may be an ideal move. But travel concerns or financial worries may force you to look at alternatives.

Here are some simple - but surprisingly effective – tips for dealing with (or rather “working with”) your defiant adolescent:

1. A defiant adolescent will often see their situation as being “them and me.” The “them” being his/her mom and dad. The issue of control or who is the boss should be downplayed. Adolescents are not kids even if they behave badly. They are young people – and working together is a far better option than a boss [the parent] ordering the youngster around.

2. Agree on a contract about behavior within and without the home. Sign the document and list the consequences if the rules are broken. Have the “punishment” fit the “crime.” Do all this by cooperation rather than dictating what will and won’t happen. Children respect fair play.

3. Allow your adolescents to say what they feel – but in a respectful way. It is important that they express emotion, but in a controlled, appropriate manner. It is valuable for them to learn these communication skills, because they will need them for other areas of life as well. Although you may not agree with a word they say about the selected subject, validate their feelings by stating, “I hear what you are saying and understand you feel very strongly about this subject. I can imagine your frustration when this does not go the way you would like it to, however I feel that this is not the appropriate decision, therefore I have decided to say ‘no’.”

4. Defiance often comes when problems surface. Don’t see a ‘problem’ as a ‘problem’. See it as a way to build cooperation. You and your youngster can solve the problem together. Work as a team! Recruit him/her as a ‘partner in problem solving’.

5. Have a clear goal. This means, you need to know where you want to get, since your interventions should be directed to this goal. Don’t try to directly go for your point because this will only trigger another escalation. You need to be subtle and “hide” your goal, because if it becomes visible during the initial phase, it will backfire. You have to slowly leak it at the end of the second phase (peak and/or plateau). Think of it as a chess game. If you start making random moves to see what happens, the other player (who has a plan or idea) will beat you in the blink of an eye. Also, since you are the authority figure, you will have some sort of leverage. Use it, but never as a threat or coercion. Use that differential of power wisely.

6. If the parent sees the conflict as a test, a chance for them to prove that they deserve respect and have authority over the youngster, then disaster awaits. You may well be making a bad situation worse. Don’t try to win!

7. If the parents are a loving couple with respect and concern for one another, the chances of a happy family are higher. Make sure that the family unit is strong and growing stronger. Then if one member (your teen son or daughter) becomes defiant, you will have a shining example of how happiness can and does work within your own family.

8. If your adolescent won't listen, break the ice with a note. Hand it to her or slip it under her door. Keep it short, simple, and from the heart. You could write something like, "I'm sorry," "You're AWESOME!" or, "Want to go out for ice cream?" If your adolescent has difficulty sharing her thoughts with you in person, suggest that she write them down. Give her a "Let's Talk" journal and ask her to write whatever is on her mind, and then invite her to share the journal with you when she's ready.

9. Laughter IS good medicine for the body, mind, and soul. Keep things light to ease tension. Add humor to your conversations, as long as you're laughing together and not at each other's expense.

10. Love is at the heart of all good relationships but respect is not far behind. Sometimes telling your adolescent you love them will not cut the ice. Aim for the time being for respect and that’s mutual respect. As a mother or father, show clearly that you respect your adolescent. Give them respect and certain freedoms and in no way mistreat them. From respect love may well recover.

11. Meals offer great opportunities for conversation. Every day, try to have at least one meal together with your adolescent. Take him out to lunch once in a while. Share something interesting you read or saw on T.V. When you say goodnight, spend a few minutes talking about how the day went for each of you.

12. One of the major reasons why you and your youngster are at odds is because you may be highlighting the differences between the two of you. Make a list of things upon which you can agree – the common ground. This is a brilliant way to start. It lays the foundation to remove the defiance and establish trust and goodwill.

13. Moms and dads often make the mistake of treating their kids as ‘property’ instead of ‘individuals’. Many parents take away their kid’s ability to express feelings appropriately by totally shutting his/her opinions out.

14. Remember that it all comes down to a power struggle. The key is not to get engaged in it, since you’ll be playing the adolescent’s game. You need to make that struggle as subtle as you can during most of the conversation, or at least until you consider the child is ready to acknowledge the fact that there is a “chain of command” and his way is not a viable option. In the process you will gain respect, a sense that what you want is not a whim - and last but not least - you’ll look as someone approachable in his eyes, which will help in future occurrences.

15. Remember that no one wants to hear the word “no.” Your adolescent will be angry with you – and that is okay. Many moms and dads are concerned that if their adolescent is not happy with them that they are damaging the relationship. YOUR ADOLESCENT IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE YOUR BEST FRIEND! It is absolutely okay for your adolescent to be upset with you when they do not get their way, or you set boundaries with them. 
Setting healthy boundaries for your youngster is one of the greatest acts of love. What’s important is that you have given them respect by hearing their request and taken into consideration what they have said. It is also important to understand that it is okay to say ‘yes’ sometimes. Balance is the key in most situations. It is also a good idea to explain your view to your kids (even if they still do not like the results). Telling them ‘no’ and giving the explanation, “Because I said so”, no longer works.

16. Respect each other, even your differences. When your youngster was young, she believed every word you said. But as an adolescent, she's developing her own belief system. It's normal for both of you to disagree sometimes. Instead of arguing over differences in opinion, create an environment where it's safe for both of you to express your ideas. Give each other a chance to speak. Listen without making fun of what the other says. Even in the midst of your differences, look for common ground.

17. Schedule a time when all household members are available to attend a family meeting. This meeting is mandatory so your adolescent and young kids as well must attend. Prior to the meeting, family members should think of a topic to address. It could be family finances, allowance, curfew or any family issue. During the first meeting, establish household rules for disagreements. Rules would be, no yelling, or insults, or profanity, and respect that everyone has different opinions. It is important that everyone gets the opportunity to express their opinion, but make it known that the grown-ups in the household have the final say.

18. There is a possibility that the unacceptable behavior by the adolescent is linked to the behavior of their mother or father. That’s you! Start by asking yourself a series of questions. Are you being reasonable? What is the point of view expressed by my youngster? What can I change about my life which will help my adolescent?

19. They may not show it, but adolescents love to be praised. Remember to regularly - and sincerely - point out your adolescent's strengths. Praise something she did well. Encourage your adolescent in his endeavors. You'll raise his self-esteem while opening the door to better communication.

20. Use active listening. Let him vent and be aware that you will hear things that you won’t like – but don’t get into an argument. That won’t help either. The “me vs. him” approach won’t work. Instead, listen and wait for the right moment to make your interventions, pointing out the weak points of his or her argument and redirecting the conversation continually. Timing is paramount here. The de-escalation rate will be directly tied to how timely and on the spot your interventions are.

21. We all know how to talk to our children (or think we do). But understand that ‘what we say’ and ‘what our adolescent hears’ may not be one and the same. Communication is important – but good communication is vital. Find out what language your youngster understands and talk to them in such a way that understanding is the basis of all your communicating.

22. We all know the ‘quality time’ expression, but saying it and doing it are two different things. You need to spend one-on-one quality time with your adolescent. Make it regular and positive. The more your youngster sees you care and are prepared to give your own free time to work for them, the better will be your relationship.

23. When an adolescent becomes oppositional, know that you are going to need patience – and lots of it. Usually, to de-escalate him or her, it would take you as long as a usual discussion with your girl/boyfriend or partner. That would be between an hour and a half and two hours. It follows the normal Bell curve: (a) an initial moment of increasing tension, (b) a peak, (c) a plateau where you may feel that you are getting nowhere, and (d) a decline (the de-escalation).

24. When your adolescent comes by to talk, make eye contact. Put aside what you're doing to let him know you're listening. Show you're interested by focusing on what he's saying. Ask relevant questions. When you want to initiate a conversation, watch for cues that your adolescent is being receptive. If you see that he needs peace and quiet, give him space. Look for the right moment to talk.

25. You need to take into account is that it’s going to be a chess game. You are the authority figure and that’s the main problem. Oppositional and defiant behaviors are tightly bonded to authority. When dealing with defiant teens, know that “time-outs” are only going to give them time to stay on that negative trend of thought – and this is not going to help the situation get any better. You need to talk him/her out of it. Don’t expect time itself to work magic. And if it does, there are going to be hurt feelings and resentment. In other words, as a parent, your intervention is needed.

Final thought: Don’t panic. You are not alone. And there is expert advice, much of it free, available to help you fix your situation. Work on helping – not hindering – your teen. Work on improving your own behavior and come up with some simple, written strategies (such as those found in this post).

==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Defiant Teens and Preteens

Teens and Mood Swings

Adolescent’s moods swings are not only confusing to parents, but they are also draining. It is not fun to walk around as if on eggshells in fear a 16 year old might erupt or become weepy. It is also not a good idea to try to punish the bad mood out of the youngster.

Researchers have discovered that the brain continues to grow and develop through adolescence much more than originally thought. Because the brain reaches 90% of its full size by the age of six, it has historically been believed that it had also reached almost full development. Now it is believed that the brain changes much more during the teenage years than previously believed. The grey matter on the outer part of the brain thickens over time with this process peaking at age 11 in females and age 12 in males.

After this process is over, the brain begins to trim away excess grey matter that is not used, leaving only the information that the brain needs and making the brain more efficient. One of the last areas to go through this trimming process is the prefrontal cortex, which is the area of the brain responsible for judgment, self-control, and planning. This means that while adolescents have very strong emotions and passions, they don’t have the mechanisms in place to control these emotions. This is one reason behind teenage mood swings.

Another biological factor is that this is when the body starts producing sex hormones as well as going through a major growth spurt. The physical changes that adolescents experience cause them to feel strange and perhaps confused or uncomfortable, and this erodes their sense of security. Because of the effect that this has on their psychological state, they may strike out or experience conflicting moods.

Adolescents have not yet developed the ability to deal with the pressures, frustrations, and anxieties of life. As their lives become more complicated and adult-like, they don’t have the built-in coping mechanisms that grown-ups have developed to help them deal, so they are prone to react very emotionally to situations. Also, adolescents are typically very preoccupied with identity formations and becoming entities with lives separate from those of their moms and dads. This, again, can cause confusion or frustration. While the world seems to be changing constantly around them, they feel as though they can’t keep up or handle the pressure, and this will inevitably lead to a slightly off-kilter emotional state.

What Parents Can Do—

Here are a few tips you can use to help your teenager learn to control or deal with his/her mood swings:

1. Allow your adolescents to wait out the mood. If they need a good cry or to just pace around their room, give them their privacy to do it. Offer comfort and let your adolescents know you are there if they need to talk.

2. Always take the upper road as the mother or father.

3. Don't take their mood swings personally. Don't let their moods alienate you from them. As moms and dads we tend to get our feelings hurt when our kids don't respond to us positively. It is important to remember that the mother/father must react in the more mature manner and always forgive the kids and keep your heart open to them.

4. Encourage your adolescents to identify what is happening. Help them recognize the signs of their bad moods, so they know what is happening. Let them know that they are not alone, this happens to most people.

5. Encourage your adolescent to take preventative steps though creativity and being involved. Being involved in a hobby will help your adolescent’s moods stay on an even keel. It will teaching him/her more coping skills and resilience.

6. Give them room and allow them to be miserable or sad for a period. Of course you will need to watch them to be sure they don't get depressed, but don't deny them the right to be sad or to need time alone.

7. Look for moments when they may be willing to talk. Just like they have times when they are in bad moods, they will also have good moments. Take advantage of these times to relate to them what you went through at the same age so they will know they are not alone.

8. Never let your youngster's bad mood cause you to react in anger.

9. Recognize what is happening. Do not be too busy that you aren’t looking at the situation correctly and go directly into 'discipline mode'. Know that it isn’t just your child, this is normal for adolescents. It isn’t easy to deal with bad or sad feelings when you can’t figure out what is wrong.

10. Stay firm where behavior is concerned. While you cannot dictate how they feel, you can dictate how they react. Don't allow a bad mood to mean disrespect of you, other elders. Also, don't allow them to be hurtful to siblings. If this happens, you must demand that they apologize.

11. Support a healthy lifestyle in your home. Getting enough rest and eating right goes a long way for anyone’s mood. This is also an opportunity for parent’s to model the appropriate behavior.

12. Teach your adolescent coping skills. When he/she is calm, use role play and show them how to count back from 10, go for a walk or listen to music. Modeling these appropriate behaviors when you are in a bad mood will help your adolescent be better prepared.

Mood swings can leave an adolescent feel like they’re out of control, which is a very uncomfortable state for anyone to be in. Of course, if the mood swings are severely abnormal or prolonged the adolescent should see a professional about other possible issues. Normal teen mood swings can make an adolescent feel unbalanced, though, and are not to be taken lightly.

Here are some tips for what your adolescent can do when dealing with a mood swing:
  • Exercise - exercise releases endorphin into the blood stream, and these chemicals can help to regulate mood and ease frustration
  • Get creative – painting, drawing, writing, or building something can help an adolescent to express their emotions in a healthy way
  • Get plenty of rest – regular sleep helps keep the mind in tip-top shape
  • Realize that they’re not alone – talking to a friend or peer who is dealing with the same issues will make them feel less abnormal and help them realize that they are not crazy
  • Take a breather – stepping back and trying to look at the situation from another angle, counting to ten, or just sitting with the uncomfortable feelings for a moment will help the adolescent to realize that it’s not as bad as it seems
  • Wait – the mood may pass as quickly as it struck; wait before acting out on extreme emotions

There are a variety of treatment options available to cope with mood swings. Examine the following list and decide which treatment works best for you and your youngster:

1. Behavioral Therapy: Behavioral therapy helps to weaken the connections between troublesome situations and habitual reactions to them. Reactions common to mood swings such as fear, anxiety, depression, anger, and self-damaging behavior can be controlled. Behavioral therapy teaches your adolescent how to calm the mind and body, so they can feel better, think more clearly, and make better decisions.

2. Cognitive Therapy: Cognitive therapy teaches your adolescent how certain thinking patterns are causing your symptoms — by giving a distorted picture of what's going on in their life, and making them feel anxious, depressed or angry for no apparent reason, or provoking them into negative actions. Resolving the cognitive aspect of mood swings can mean improved social interaction, more confidence, and a more positive outlook on life.

3. Literary Therapy: Literary therapy incorporates books, articles, and other research materials into the process of healing. By gathering information about mood swings, one can acquire in-depth knowledge about his or her problems. This knowledge provides the essential tools for controlling and resolving ones issues. There is an extensive amount of information available from a wide range of perspectives. Many books can be checked out from a local library, and most internet information is presented free of charge.

4. Supplements: There are many non-prescription alternatives on the market today. Some of these alternatives contain supplemental vitamins and minerals, while others contain herbal alternatives that have been used to naturally medicate mood swings. Clinical evidence for Valerian, Kava Kava and St. Johns Wort suggests that these herbal constituents can provide significant benefit in helping to relieve negative mood and other symptoms related to anxiety and depression.

5. Talk Therapy: Talk therapy involves the idea of healing through communication. Talking to friends, family members, or a therapist can help your adolescent to find support for those dealing with mood swings. Communication comes naturally to humans, and the simple act of discussing one’s problems can be extremely helpful in the healing process.

6. Talk to Your Doctor: Communicating with your doctor is an important part in the diagnosis and treatment of mood swings. By talking to your doctor openly, you allow him or her to provide your youngster with the best mood swings treatment program possible.

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

Is your teenager getting mouthy?

Back-talk is triggered by your youngster’s emotions, primarily frustration, anger, and a need to get revenge when he/she thinks something is unfair. On the far end of the continuum is verbal abuse, which is meant to inflict emotional pain on the parent. Verbal abuse often includes foul language and disturbing threats of violence designed to intimidate the parent into “giving in” and letting the teen have his/her way. Children who use verbal abuse want to attack you so that they can control you. They don't care about consequences; they're not intimidated by them. Thus, verbal abuse has to be handled in a very special way.

Why do children talk to parents in disrespectful ways? Because they don't know how to express emotions appropriately. They learn a lot from watching other children and people around them. If your son is frustrated and doesn't know how to show it, and he sees somebody else roll their eyes and make a face, he’ll absorb that lesson without even thinking about it. Then the next time he’s frustrated at home, he’ll roll his eyes and make a face at you. If he gets a reaction out of you, the behavior gets reinforced because he knows he’s succeeded in pushing your buttons.

It's not easy to ignore mildly disrespectful behavior, but don’t kid yourself. If you threaten your youngster by saying, “Don't roll your eyes at me, young man, or you'll be grounded,” that will only make him do it more. If you respond to annoying behavior in a strong way repeatedly, you give it power and strength. Conversely, the less you challenge it, the less you give it power – and the less power you give it – the more it's going to die a natural death.

The worst thing parents can do is to challenge back-talk ‘inconsistently’ (i.e., sometimes you let it slide, sometimes you confront it). With inconsistent confrontation, back-talk tends to become more entrenched.

The Use of Sarcasm—

Teens generally use sarcasm in two ways: (1) they make sarcastic comments when they’re feeling like they’re under pressure, or (2) they use chronic sarcasm as a way to manage their anger safely (it’s safer to show their anger through sarcasm than it is through other means they’ve learned).

Usually sarcasm is learned and modeled by grown-ups, and so part of the response to sarcasm in children is for the adults to avoid lowering themselves to the child’s level. Often when parents are mad about their kid’s performance, they make sarcastic comments. These comments are hurtful, and teens develop a defense to that by becoming sarcastic themselves. Sometimes you’ll see children who are really sarcastic and use verbal abuse in most areas of their life. The function of chronic sarcasm is to help teens deflect any blame while throwing anger onto the target parent.

When you witness sarcasm in your teen, ask yourself, “Why is my youngster responding this way?” It’s usually not hard to discover what your youngster is threatened by that leads to sarcasm. Sometimes it’s a secret, sometimes it’s a task she hasn’t completed, and sometimes it’s a power struggle. Whatever it is, once you’ve identified it, it becomes much easier to resolve. For example, if your teen becomes sarcastic whenever you bring up the topic of homework, a good question to ask is, “How come you get sarcastic whenever we talk about your homework?” This question is effective because it both identifies the issue and puts your youngster on the spot.

A very powerful way to respond to sarcasm is to simply say, “I don’t appreciate that comment” – then turn around and walk away. In this way, you’re taking all the power out of the room with you. If you argue or try to make a point, you’re giving your youngster more power.

It’s normal to become annoyed when your teenager says sarcastically, for example, “Great job, Mom …duh!” This is where you have to draw the line between what kind of disrespect requires your attention and what doesn't. A comment that is not a personal attack and not meant to demean you can be handled by simply ignore it. This is “intentional ignoring,” which is used when you decide consciously to ignore attention-seeking behaviors as long as they’re not overtly hurtful or abusive.

When your youngster says, for example, “You’re an idiot,” make no mistake – he means you're an idiot. This comment does NOT go into the “intentional ignoring” category. You can say very clearly, “There's no name calling in this house, and there is a consequence for name calling.” Set limits on it very clearly and hold your youngster accountable. Every time he says “you’re an idiot,” he goes to bed 15 minutes earlier or has 15 minutes less TV time. He should be held accountable from the beginning.

Lastly, don't give your youngster a second chance when he’s being verbally abusive to you. Second chances create bad habits in children. As soon as you start giving your child a second chance, he will think to himself, “Hmmm, the first one is free, so I won’t get into trouble if I call dad an idiot.”

=> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents Who Are At Their Wits-End

Making Summer Vacation a Positive Experience

For teenagers, summer is the highlight of the year – no responsibilities, sleeping in until noon, a kitchen full of food, and the sweet smell of independence. Many moms and dads work full-time throughout the summer; some go on vacation and leave adolescents with an easygoing relative or friend; and some older adolescents are even left alone when moms and dads are away. All of the structure and scheduling that occurs during the school year turns into unadulterated freedom in the summer.

For moms and dads, the start of summer means the countdown to September is on. As yet another school year comes to a close, mothers/fathers are making last-minute plans to keep their adolescents occupied for three long months. Sure, a few weeks may be spent on a family vacation, some adolescents may attend summer school, and others may take up a new hobby. But that still leaves hours each day and days each week when adolescents are home with nothing to do. How many days can you invent amusing activities and outings that will keep your adolescent out of trouble?

With less structure and adult supervision, the summer is ripe with opportunities for adolescents to fall into a bad crowd, experiment with drugs or alcohol, or get into other forms of mischief. If your adolescent has been struggling during the school year, more trouble may be awaiting you in summer. Adolescents are looking for adventure, risk, and excitement, especially in the summer. Being bored at home is the exact opposite of what they need. They will find a way to take risks and live adventurously with or without your support and guidance.

Kids and teens that are not supervised are more likely to commit crimes, be victims of crimes, do drugs, or hang out with gang members. Young people start committing crimes around noon during the summer, compared to 3 p.m. during the school year. In addition, adolescents tend to commit drug crimes later in the evening during the summer, most likely because they can stay out later without worrying about getting up early for school. This means adolescents need constructive activities to occupy a broader range of time in summer than during the school year. For working moms and dads, it's difficult to be around from noon until late in the evening every day.

More adolescents try marijuana for the first time in summer than at any other time of year. This translates into 6,300 new users each day, a 40 percent increase in first-time youth marijuana use during June and July as compared to the rest of the year. A hike in new underage drinkers and cigarette smokers also occurs during the summer months.

By taking proper precautions and planning ahead, moms and dads can make summer vacation a positive and memorable growth experience for adolescents. Where should parents begin? Two words: Summer camp. Yes, there is cost involved, but for most struggling adolescents, the benefits are well worth the price.

Most adolescents want nothing more than a summer to hang out with their friends. However, for adolescents that are acting out, falling behind in school, disrespecting authority figures, or getting in trouble with the law, a break from negative peer influences may be exactly what they need. Sometimes the best thing for the whole family is to take a break, with a struggling adolescent attending camp to learn new skills and ways of approaching family conflict, and family members doing their own work at home.

There is no better way to make constructive use of free time than learning something new - a new skill, exploring an unfamiliar place, meeting new people. Therapeutic wilderness programs offer a unique opportunity for troubled adolescents to explore the wilderness on foot, learn primitive life skills, and participate in challenging group activities. When stripped of the comforts of home, like television, computers, and video games, adolescents connect with themselves and others on a deeper level.

Wilderness camps emphasize responsibility, self-awareness, teamwork, and communication, and challenge adolescents to achieve their personal best. Adolescents are introduced to a new group of peers and learn to relate to people of all backgrounds. They live in a structured, highly supervised environment, which helps adolescents gain perspective on life at home and build self-confidence and hope for a brighter future.

If summer camps and wilderness programs aren't right for your adolescent, consider getting him or her involved in volunteer work. Animal shelters, halfway houses, nursing homes, churches, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and other organizations can keep adolescents occupied while developing a sense of purpose, self-confidence, and personal responsibility. In addition to teaching adolescents the joy of giving back, volunteer work looks great on college applications and resumes.

Another activity to keep adolescents busy this summer is a part-time job. Many moms and dads find internships or small tasks for their kids to do at their place of employment, or you can help your adolescent apply to local grocery stores, restaurants, retail stores, local car washes, or pet care facilities. Adolescents can also earn extra money babysitting, doing yard work, house-sitting, and other odd jobs. Part-time work helps adolescents budget, make friends, comply with authority, develop a strong work ethic, and learn the value of a dollar.

Keeping your youngster busy for the sake of being busy can be as disastrous as doing nothing. Your adolescent may rebel against the cluttered schedule and seek out more interesting people and places on his own. Your money would be put to better use in a summer camp with a clear, focused goal, such as a wilderness camp or weight-loss camp.

Moms and dads who are seeing early signs of behavioral or emotional problems in their kids have an excellent opportunity to get their children back on track during summer vacation. Waiting to address these issues until the summer has started or problems become serious would do a disservice to your adolescent. Start talking with your adolescent at least a month before the start of summer vacation to make plans, reserve a place at camp, and coordinate schedules.

More Tips for Making Summer Vacation a Positive Experience:

1. A stagnant economy may make the summer job search a bit more difficult than usual. But if your adolescent is serious about looking for summer work, encourage her to find (or create) a job that she can do during the morning (e.g., if she starts a lawn-mowing business, encourage her to schedule her appointments for the morning, before the hottest part of the day).

2. From volunteer experiences to summer internships to organized sports, summer vacation is an excellent time for adolescents to explore topics that interest them, but that they may not have the opportunity to delve into during the school year. If your adolescent enjoys sports, summer vacation is a great time to participate in a league or take part in a short-term skills camp. For adolescents who are interested in sports but who don't want to play, many youth leagues are always on the lookout for officials, scorekeepers, and coaches. If your family's financial situation is such that paid employment isn't a requirement for your adolescent during summer vacation, think about volunteer work or an unpaid internship. In addition to boosting your adolescent's college resume, these opportunities can also give your adolescent real-world work experience and insights into a career field that she is interested in.

3. Summer camp opportunities today include computer camp, finance camp, theater camp, wilderness camp, space camp, adventure camp, and many more. In addition to topic-centered summer camps, experienced professionals also operate innovative summer camps that are designed to support, motivate, and provide a memorable summer experience for all types of adolescents, including overweight kids and kids with learning disabilities, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and certain types of autism. In addition to providing a nurturing and accepting environment, weight loss summer camps and summer camps for special students can provide long-term educational, emotional, and therapeutic benefits for these kids.

4. If your adolescent has a history of behavior problems, defiance, substance abuse, or related challenges, summer vacation can be a difficult time both for him and for you. In the absence of the structure and support that is provided during the school year, summer vacation can cause significant backsliding in the behaviors of troubled adolescents and at-risk adolescents. To avoid these problems – and to turn summer vacation from a negative experience into a positive educational opportunity – educate yourself about the many therapeutic wilderness programs for troubled adolescents that have been established over the past few decades. In addition to helping your adolescent with issues related to behavior, mental health, and substance abuse, a summer wilderness program for troubled adolescents can also instill leadership values, personal responsibility, and a heightened sense of self-worth and self-esteem.

5. If your adolescent is a swimmer (or wants to learn), sign her up for morning lessons or a community team that practices during the a.m. hours. If your adolescent needs an academic boost, find a morning tutoring program (which serves the dual purpose of getting him out of bed and getting the "painful" part of the day out of the way).

6. If your adolescent wants some freedom during his summer vacation days, trade afternoon hours for morning chores. The benefits: Your adolescent is awake, your household chores are taken care of, and there's no daylong back and forth about what needs to be done. If the chores are done by a pre-determined time, afternoon activities are allowed; if the work isn't done, the afternoon schedule is curtailed or called off.

7. Realistically, handing your adolescent a schedule of morning chores, activities, and work assignments is not going to end your summer vacation stress. But anything you can do to encourage your adolescent to buy into (or take ownership of) the summer plan will make the process go much smoother. Sit down with your adolescent and discuss your hopes and plans for summer vacation. Perhaps you can trade hours (morning chores for afternoon fun), or maybe you can ease some restrictions (for example, an extended curfew) in exchange for desired behaviors (phoning home at predetermined times when out of the house, or completing a certain number of chores). In addition to reducing your adolescent's resistance to the summer vacation schedule, negotiating will make enforcement of punishments a bit more palatable, too, because your adolescent will know the penalty before he violated the rule.

There's a good chance that a significant portion of your adolescent's summer dreams involve, well, dreaming. From post-noon wake-ups to midday naps, extended snooze sessions can be among summer's most enticing opportunities for sleep-deprived, school-stressed adolescents. While there's no reason to insist that your adolescent rise with the sun during summer vacation, there are more than a few justifications for opposing a "wake me for dinner" mentality.

Don't just get by this summer, counting down the days until September. Wasted time is a wasted opportunity. A bold and exciting summer vacation can be a life-changing time of continued learning and personal exploration for adolescents.

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

Teens and Chore Refusal

Have you ever asked your teenager to do something only to (a) get into a heated argument about it, and (b) end up having to do the task yourself?  Have you often felt that it would be easier - and a lot less painful - to simply go beat your head against a brick wall rather than to ask your teenager to do a simple chore? If so, you are not alone.

There are many reasons why adolescents lack motivation to do what moms and dads want them to do. Here are the main reasons:

1. Grow-ups need to be kind and firm while holding adolescents accountable—once they have agreed upon a plan. It is just as easy to be kind with friendly reminders as it is to use unkind lectures. Actually it is easier, because everyone feels better and the job gets done without a power struggle. Understanding that it is easier and more effective is the hard part. Where did grow-ups every get the crazy idea that in order to make adolescents do better, first they have to make them feel worse.

2. Kids aren't allowed to explore the relevance for themselves of what you want. They are "told", but they don't explore. How many parents "tell" their kids what happened, what caused it to happen, how they should feel about it, and what they should do about it? It is much more effective to ask "curiosity questions".

3. Moms and dads are more interested in short-term results than long-term results. For example, “I'll make you do your homework now—even if it means you will never do your best because you are too busy rebelling.”

4. Moms and dads don't allow their kids to learn from failure — an excellent motivator. One of the best ways to help kids learn to be responsible (motivated) is to be consciously irresponsible. Allow them to fail and then be empathetic and help them explore the consequences of their choices through curiosity questions: What happened? What do you think caused that? How are you feeling about it? What could you do in the future if you want another outcome? How can I support you?

5. Moms and dads don't help kids learn time management skills through involving them in the creation of routine charts. The key words are "involving them."

6. Moms and dads don't know how to say, "I love you, and the answer is no."

7. Moms and dads don't teach their kids problem-solving skills through family meetings and individual barnstorming sessions.

8. Moms and dads expect adolescents to "remember to do their chores" as though it were an indicator of responsibility. Most responsible grow-ups were not necessarily responsible adolescents. Even though adolescents are "more" motivated to follow a plan they have helped create, they will still forget because it is not high on their list of priorities. This does not mean they are irresponsible. It means they are adolescents. A friendly reminder doesn't have to be a big deal. Use your sense of humor and remind with your mouth shut. Point, use charades, or write a note. If you have to say something, ask, "What was our agreement?"

9. Moms and dads give their kids too many things and then wonder why they fail to be appreciative and instead just want more, more, and more.

10. Moms and dads nag and invite resistance.

11. Regarding motivation to do chores, homework, manners, coming home on time, etc.: Adolescents are too often “told” instead of “invited” to brainstorm and come up with solutions that works for everyone. Adolescents are much more motivated to follow a plan they have helped create.

12. Adolescents feel "conditionally loved" -- "I'm okay only if I live up to your expectations, get good grades, and excel in sports." This hurts, and some adolescents get revenge by failing. Others may become approval addicts.


There are lots of reasons why teenagers refuse to do chores around the house. You can solicit your teen’s help and get cooperation if you keep these top five “reasons-for-refusal” - and their solutions - in mind:

1. It's boring. Solution: Develop relevant chores with good paybacks. Think beyond dishes and laundry. What does your teenager do well? What does he like to do? Researching a family purchase on-line or buying groceries with use of the car may appeal much more and produce less stress for all involved.

2. The request wasn't attractive. Solution: Put on a smile and compose yourself before asking. Use positive words. Forgive the past. Frame the request in terms your teenager finds agreeable as opposed to confrontational.

3. They don't think it is important or worthy of their time. Solution: You will have a better response if you link their chores to something they value. A request to clean up a bedroom is far more likely to generate a positive outcome if the teenager has asked to have a sleepover first.

4. You asked too many times. Solution: Too many times equals nagging and nobody likes to be nagged. To avoid repeating yourself, consider improving your presentation skills.

5. You forgot to ask their permission. Solution: Would you demand from a friend? Probably not, if you wanted to remain their friend. Children like to be asked and shown respect.

As your awareness and communicating skill grows, you will notice increased help and a positive response when you ask your teenager to do chores. Here are some tips:

1. Being a family is a cooperative effort. Tackling a chore such as sweeping the deck and cleaning up the backyard helps adolescents understand that they can give back. Teaching shared chores is a real kindness you can do for your child. Assign tasks for each family member, always remembering to say thanks and praise your adolescent for a job well done. Parents need to remind themselves to be grateful and appreciative of their children’s efforts.

2. If you can’t stand how your son consistently leaves his towel on the bedroom floor after his shower, tell him. But don’t load on other chores at the same time. Start with one thing. Say, “if you keep throwing your towel on the floor, you’ll have to stay home Friday night,” and leave it at that. And make sure the chores you assign accommodate your children’s schedules. A school night after a sports practice and a test looming the next day is not the best time to expect chores to be completed.

3. Keep chores gender neutral. Many families are stuck in stereotypical role assignments (e.g., kitchen chores for daughters, taking out the garbage and mowing the lawn for sons, etc.). Instead, teach your son to cook and do laundry; show your daughter how to wash the car and rake leaves.

4. Let your adolescents have input into which tasks they feel they can complete on their timetable and according to their level of skills and abilities.

5. Once you give your adolescent a new chore, assume he or she does not know how to complete it. If you demonstrate the right way to do a chore, such as making a bed—for example, showing where clean linens are kept, how to tuck in sheets and put a pillow into its case—it will probably get done more or less the way you’d like.

6. Pay, if a chore is particularly difficult. If it goes above and beyond what’s usually asked, most experts agree it is perfectly appropriate to pay your adolescent to do it.

7. Test scores, relationship ups and downs, or preparing for college admissions can send the best-natured adolescent into a funk. But, just as adults can’t shirk their duties because they’re having a bad day, adolescents should be expected to follow through on their regular chores even when times are tough. Actually, a chore can give an adolescent an anchor when things aren’t going well at school or socially. Taking the dog for a walk has nothing to do with an A or a B, and can serve as a welcome distraction.

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

How do I get my over-achieving daughter to slow down?

"I have taken the quiz and surprisingly found that I was a severely over indulgent parent. This angers me because I didn't think...