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Is There Any Discipline That Really Works With Teens?

Posted: Sep 19, 2011 11:20 PM

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Teen discipline tips from our expert Family Therapist, Gary Unruh.

Discipline: Is There Really Anything That Works with Teens?

Teen Ava scowls and says, "You don't understand me." (It's the number one teen complaint about parents.) And you're thinking, I try every day and all I get is a nod or a shrug. Or if we do talk, it always turns into an argument. What about this one: "You're stricter than any of my friends' parents." You think, No way.... Well, maybe... Help!

All of this is normal, I'm-discovering-myself teen behavior, depending on the hormone count for that day. That's the bad news. But there's good news. With a teen GPS navigator-don't let them see you use it-you can head in the right direction to deal successfully with your teen most of the time.

Get your directions right with these three tips.

1. Turn the audio up and push the understanding button. Put your megaphone down and listen 75 percent of the time. When you do talk, ask questions, calmly. Teens believe "You don't understand me" when you say, "I understand" and immediately start your full-length lecture with "Here's what I think ..." Instead, prove your understanding with a question: "Did I hear you when you said ...?" If you got it right, then say, "Tell me more about why you think marijuana should be legalized." When teens know for sure that you understand their point, they'll feel more understood. Also, don't forget to push the agreeing button on your teen GPS: find something your teen said to agree with. Who doesn't like to be right once in a while?

2. Tune in to the heart and hear the feelings. There's inside communication and outside communication. Most parents point out their teen's wrong outside behavior: what they do and what they say. Instead, start with the inside heart material: push the validate feelings button on your teen GPS. Respond to "I hate my brother" with "He really can be annoying; I see that. Tell me more." When the inside feeling causing the outside behavior is listened to, teens are more willing to change their behavior. Oh, expect your teen's comments to be black and white and many times far from what you know really happened. But the feelings, for the moment, are always true. Always start at the heart level and then work your way to the outside behavior.

3. Tune in to teen arguing (respectfully). Your teen GPS manual says that test flying "who I am" is the norm during these sometimes turbulent teen years. And guess where the flight path occurs? Directly in your face. When they take off on you, make sure to push the teen GPS encourage arguing button. Why? They actually trust you more than anyone else to experiment with new stunts. (Kids really want to please parents, but you'd never know it with their "You're such an old fogey" comments.) You do need to take over the controls if the ground starts coming up too fast by way of seriously disrespectful or unkind comments.

Adjust your parental direction to better fit your teen's needs and the journey will be less turbulent.

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