Raising a teen is tricky, even with positive parenting skills. You have a young person who is your child, but not a kid anymore, yet at the same time not a grown-up either. Your teen seems to be stuck in a space between dependency and autonomy. At times, this space becomes a source of frustration for everyone involved. That’s where positive parenting comes into play.
As a positive parent, you often feel like you are losing your mind, stranded between the role of a friend and a dictator. Even though kids are wired to break free as they become teens, it’s still important to teach them boundaries and set clear rules. The way I like to explain it to my parent clients is that you move from a Teacher role when they are little, to a Mentor/Coach role as they reach that Tween/Teen phase. Rather than telling them the ‘what’ AND the ‘how’, you set the ‘what’ (the boundaries) and guide them to decide on the ‘how’.
How can we use our positive parenting skills with our teens in a way that they take responsibility for the consequences of their behaviour and attitudes without unnecessarily suffering the negative consequences?
Fortunately, most teens are capable of being reasonable if approached in the right way. Once you learn basic effective communication techniques and apply them in conversations with your teen, you’ll find that discussing, negotiating, and reevaluating becomes possible.
Here are 4 ways to support your positive parenting skills:
• Allow redemption. Teens are often well aware of their mistakes. Giving them a chance to right their wrongs is usually more effective than depriving them of their favourite things.
Make a deal with them to do extra chores, community work, or to pay for something they’ve broken instead. This will give them a sense of justice and teach them about consequences and responsibility.
• Come to an agreement. If you prefer to ground your teenager, it’s important for you both to be on the same page. They have to know and agree on the consequences for their mistakes.
Having well-defined rules for behaviour is not the equivalent to being strict. It’s important to talk about this before a situation arises and emotions are running high. Talk to your teen and let them know what you expect from them and why. Listen to their opinion and point of view on the matter. Healthy boundaries need to exist but people are much more likely to be motivated to stick to them when they have a say in the matter. No adult likes to be dictated to and neither does your budding adult.
If you do decide to ground your teen, limit only one aspect of their life and make it short term shorter rather than longer. Whenever you can, make sure you apply the consequence as quickly as possible following the incident. The well known Positive Parenting program ‘Triple P’ recommends that parents act quickly and consistently.
If you leave your child grounded for too long, the link between a penalty and bad behaviour becomes blurry. Discuss grounding in terms of days, rather than weeks as one week for serious situations is usually sufficient. If grounding goes on too long you also run the risk of really undermining their self esteem and their social life.
• Allow natural consequences. Let your teen learn from their experience. Let them face the consequences that follow the unwanted behaviour instead of punishing them.
If they don’t study and end up having a bad grade, let them go through it. If they don’t do the laundry, don’t step in and do it for them, but let them end up not having anything to wear.
However, be sure to talk about these experiences once they face them and show understanding of their emotions that follow.
• Enhance your relationship. If your teenager is misbehaving, it’s healthy to ask yourself if something in your current relationship with your teen might be triggering this behaviour. You may find that lately you’ve been judgmental, distant, or perhaps intruding and over-protective.
Talk, listen, and be present. Make time for your teen’s problems, no matter how ridiculous they seem at times. Support your child to take responsibility for their actions but avoid placing blame and taking every opportunity to lecture them. It really is a waste of them if you do that repeatedly as they’ll just switch off. Do you listen to someone when you feel you’re being lectured repeatedly?
Parenting is an ever-evolving process. As your child grows, you’ll need to change and adjust your positive parenting tactics.
If there is any parenting issue or situation you’re facing and would like help with then please feel free to book in a free 15 minute positive parenting consultation and I can help you.