Talk about values
Find opportunities — such as during discussions about what happened at school, in the news or on a TV show — to talk about your values. Don’t assume your children know what you believe and consider important.
Example: After watching a TV program in which a character wrecked his car and the passenger with him was hurt, you might say, “This is an example of why we think it’s really important not to drink. How do you think the character could have handled the problem better?”
Hold family meetings
Set a specific time each week with family members to set schedules, plan fun things to do together and deal with any problems or concerns. Start with compliments and end with a snack or game.
Example: A weekly family meeting, perhaps on Sunday evening, helps everyone get organized for the week. You might use the time to share good things that happened to family members during the past week or activities members are looking forward to soon. This is a good time to thank each other for specific tasks they have done for the family, as well as make plans for what needs to be done during the following week. Be sure to include something fun, too.
Make “I” statements
Let your child know how you feel, why and what you want them to do, but using “I” statements.
Example: When your daughter leaves her curling iron on, you might say, “I worry when you leave the curling iron on because it uses electricity and could start a fire. Please go turn it off right now.” This is much better than merely saying, “Go turn off the curling iron.”
Use natural consequences
Let your child learn from what happens naturally without scolding, lecturing or rescuing.
Example: When your son forgets his gloves on a cold day, let him find out how uncomfortable he gets so that he will decide on his own to remember next time. Don’t lecture!
Establish rules and consequences
Create consequences with your child for specific rules. They should be related to the rule broken, reasonable and respectful. Remember, rules and consequences should change as your child grows and develops. However, children of all ages need rules to help provide them with structure for living. It is important that parents communicate rules and consequences clearly to their child ahead of time.
Example: If your daughter comes home late in the evening after spending time with a friend, remind her that the consequence for missing curfew is not getting to go out the next evening.
Solve problems together
Work together with your child, listening to each other’s point of view, brain-storming solutions and choosing options to try. As children move into the teen years it is far more effective to engage them in conversation with you to resolve issues than expect them to follow your rules without question.
Example: Your son received a low grade in social studies. Sit down together to think of ways he might improve his grade, such as finishing home-work or asking the teacher for help. Listen to his ideas — don’t lecture.
Follow through with decisions
After an agreement has been reached, simply follow through by reminding your child about his or her agreement. Consistency from day-to-day between parents and/or partners and across situations is an important principle for parents to keep in mind.
Example: If your child has agreed to empty the garbage after supper and you find it still under the sink, find your child and give a short reminder that the garbage still needs to be taken out. (Use as few words as possible.)
Wait until you are calm to deal with a problem
Do not discipline your child when you are angry. Discussing a problem when either of you is upset only leads to fighting and additional negative feelings.
Example: Your daughter sasses you when you ask her to clean her room. You’re angry but instead of getting into a fight, you tell her you’ll discuss her sassing after you’ve cooled down.
The teen years are a period of change — for you and your child. Seek information to help you understand the changes your teen is going through and what you as a parent can do to help your teen develop positively. Talk to other parents for ideas and support. Read books on teen development. Talk to your child and work together for solutions. You may be surprised to find that when they’re taken seriously, young people have many good ideas.
And remember, it’s never too late to try new solutions to problems with your tween or young teen. Even though they may think they’re quite grown up, you still have a number of years to influence them and to build an even more positive relationship. Underneath he/she is the same person you loved and guided as a baby and small child. In spite of all the challenges, the teen years can be good years for both you and your child. Seek to be a knowledgeable, thoughtful and deliberate parent.