Some of the biggest problems we are seeing parents struggle with in regards to parenting and child behavior issues aren’t always to big ones like: teen suicide, teen depression, teen pregnancy, or teen drug addiction; but the general everyday behavior issues that we all deal with at times. Maybe it is never doing their homework, ditching out on their chores, or doing them half-heartedly, lying, stealing, cheating in school, fighting with siblings, or just disrespect. Obviously the list could go on and on and we can’t address every individual issues separately in this post today. However; we can give you some great tools and positive parenting tips to help you get control back.
Believe it or not, your children and teens need rules and discipline. Some of us that had overly strict parents or felt wronged by an authoritative figure, think that we will never treat our kids that way and in the process go too far in the other direction. Depriving our children and teenagers of the guidance, lessons in responsibility, choice and accountability, and civility that they need to become successful, contributing members of society.
The problem with most of these “overly-strict” or “mean” parents isn’t that they meant to be mean or harmful to us in anyway, they just didn’t have a good plan. They didn’t think ahead to what problems could arise and have a plan in place to deal with them, they just “rolled with the punches” and dealt with each problem as it arose. The problem with that is that, when we are faced with a problem our natural physiological responses prevent us from making logical and rational decisions. Thus, we become “mean” (some maybe even violent) or “over react” to situations. As a result, we generally don’t follow-through with any long-term threats. This is sending not only the wrong message, but also mixed messages to our children and teens. First, we are teaching them to deal with problems with anger. Second, we are teaching them that they can’t trust us. We threaten something but later realize it wasn’t really what was best, so we don’t follow through.
A simple solution is to create a parent contract that outlines expected behavior and specific consequences for when the child/teen doesn’t follow through with the expected behavior. A general behavior contract can include anything you want or anything you foresee as an issue in your family. Some areas we suggest include:
- Family relationships
- Respect for property
- Family Meetings
- Blatant disrespect of rules
Of course you can edit or change this list to include age specific of family specific rules that will most benefit your family. Just remember: look ahead for what problems MAY arise. Have set expectations and consequences agreed upon before hand by both parent and child. Then, FOLLOW THROUGH! Don’t set up consequences that you won’t enforce. Don’t give your child a second chance when they knowingly break a rule that has a specific consequence. And lastly, talk to your children and teens. If they know what you expect, they will most likely behave accordingly.