Successful Independence Does not Happen Overnight


Children learn to make responsible choices by practicing with small ones from the time they are toddlers. Adolescence is a time that this drive for independence becomes very strong, but the teen is not ready for full self-reliance. As a parent it is important to give the choices when appropriate. Try letting them choose which chores they will do each week. Praise them when they have completed them on time and for being accountable.

Look for the goal of your teen’s behavior: What is it that your teen wants when he misbehaves? Is it attention, power, revenge, acceptance, stimulation, emotional release, affirmation or some other goal? Can you help find more positive ways to reach these goals? Some attention is better than no attention. If a child is neglected, or not validated, it is no wonder he or she is acting out inappropriately. We all have a natural need to be validated and loved unconditionally.

Keep your sense of humor: Remember that adolescence is for a limited time and that other parents have survived. Humor helps you maintain perspective. Try to keep your perspective and don’t take your teen’s behavior personally.

Consistency is hard work: Consistent discipline and response by parents is the only way to develop consistent behavior in your teen. Make sure you think through appropriate consequences for behavior before you state them. Make sure your teen knows exactly what is acceptable and unacceptable. Do not change the rules and consequences once established just because you had a raise at work or you are feeling down. Consistency and following through with what you say you will do is going to make a believable parent out of you.

To the best of your ability always keep your word. A wishy-washy parent is not a strong parent, and teens need someone to trust and lean on when the going gets tough. If parents are drug addicts, alcoholics, emotionally and physically not available for teens, it forces teens to grow up too fast.

When a parent is not “emotionally present or physically present” due to this unfortunate reality, a kid loses faith and trust in a parent.

We all know kids who have suffered this consequence, although some of these parents realize their problems and go to AA, NA, and their counterpart Alanon and Alateen. Programs are always available in any city, state or country.

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