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Entries in behavior (2)


7 Steps to Surviving the Teenage Years

This post was originally written in 2012, and as I’ve had so many friends with kids entering their teenage years decided it was time to update.  The truth is the original post didn’t say anything definitive, perhaps reflecting the confusing/frustrating times your child’s teenage years impart to parents.  Far from an expert on the topic, my perspectives are gained from raising four teens in my household.

Children make some of their biggest personal growth advancements during their teenage years.  And it is not easy. 

The “terrible twos,” are, in reality, pretty darned great.  The little people are out trying to explore and develop themselves.  One could argue the same occurs during the teen years…but it is different.  Very different.  While there are times they will be delightful, at other times it is miserable to be with them. 

The negatives begin to emerge either when they discover the opposite sex OR get a driver’s license….someone once said it is when they discover “freedom.”  Another friend submits it’s hormones.  Whatever the root cause, it is inevitable.  It does seem to be a global phenomenon; parents in the US, Hong Kong and India report the same thing.

Here are seven concrete recommendations for surviving the teenage years:

  1. Remember, you are still smarter than your teen - As a parent, you are not about to become very stupid.  You may very well feel that way.  Teens will test you often, and you may find yourself questioning your judgment and feeling very isolated.  Your values are needed to guide you. 

    This is where the adage, “Trust, but Verify” comes to mind.  You should trust your teen, and check to make sure they are doing what they say they are doing.  You shouldn’t become a helicopter or snowplow parent, you need to be discrete.  Calling another parent to make sure a party is supervised isn’t unreasonable.

  2. Stay connected with other resources - In the age of Google, a large number of resources are available to you.  So large you can get conflicting advice on any topic.  Use Google and other resources like Baystate Parent or parents’ groups as inputs to your process, not as definitive sources.  You know your situation and your values best.  If it doesn’t feel right, discard it.

  3. Breathe - There will be times you want to react immediately.  This is often how things escalate and become untenable.  So take a deep breath. 

    Count to whatever number you need to count to so the initial flush of the moment can pass.  Then consider your reaction.  There are times when no reaction is your best and most impactful reaction….so use it appropriately.

  4. Set boundaries - Your pet dog knows its crate is a safe place to be.  Your teenager needs boundaries, too.  (Only a minimal apology for comparing your teen to a dog!)  Boundaries are not something set at the height of an argument.  They need to be set in advance…and it’s best if set long before needed. 

    What is the list of things you cannot support, “under your roof?”  Make this list, and then sort it from “fist pounding on the table” passion to “preferences.”  When you know the non-negotiable boundaries and behaviors, you can articulate them more effectively.

  5. Use positive reinforcement – Good and appropriate behaviors deserve acknowledgement.  You don’t have to BUY anything.  It can be a simple thank you. Or sometimes can be more tangible.  For example, driving a car is earned and not a constitutional right.

  6. Negative reinforcement use - There may be times when negative reinforcement, non-physical reinforcement is needed, the logical equivalent of sending the child to their room for a time out.  Today, this must be met with turning off electronic devices, otherwise the teen is being sent to Disneyland.  Shutting off the internet at the router, and turning off cell phones at the carrier are alternatives.

    If your teen’s role includes emptying the dishwasher, try not serving meals until the dishwasher is emptied.  While the dishes in the sink may make you vibrate for a couple days, eventually the teen will participate and do the right thing.

  7. Professional help – there are times when the situation warrants use of professional help.  Professional help comes in many forms, be it the school, learning centers, or psychological assistance.  Sudden behavioral changes or physicality are indicators.

You and the teen will emerge from this.  You will learn to converse and not hear, “whatever.”

If you have any suggestions on surviving the teen years, please share!


Why one restaurant declares, “No Lifeguards on Duty”

Restaurant owners are a fickle bunch.  They basically dedicate themselves to a lifestyle, toiling away long hours to make a living.  Yet one thing they all seem to agree on is kids need to be watched.

Let’s think about making a pizza.  For purposes of this post, let’s assume the owner has $6 profit on every pie sold.  And let’s assume re-upholstering a booth costs $1000, or 166 pizzas.  One hundred sixty six pizzas.  That’s a lot of dough.

Is it any surprise restaurant owners bristle when the soccer team comes in for a celebratory pizza and jump up on the upholstered seats with their cleats on?

To be clear, the restaurant owner wants the soccer team to come celebrate and have a nice time.  What restaurant owners do not understand is why parents allow their kids to “run free” in their restaurant.

Many owners are hesitant to say anything as they don’t want to offend the parents.  However, if a running child knocks down an elderly patron, who is at fault?  The child’s parents or the proprietor.

We recently saw a funny sign at a restaurant we frequent.  While keeping with the theme of the restaurant it gives parents a subtle hint at appropriate behavior.

I celebrate this.  It’s only common sense, and something some parents seem to lose when they go out with children. 

To be clear, I am not suggesting children be “little angels.” It’s just they can have a nice time without destroying the efforts of others.

What’s your view?