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Picking Battles With Your Teenager

For some parents it is my way or else.  It is what I want or else!  This however does not work with teenagers and if parents insist on this kind of parenting teens, trouble might be brewing.


Teenagers are at the stage of their lives where they are developing their own identities and very often that comes with strange behaviours that parents might just not admire. 


However strange your teen’s behaviour might be, it is wise to know that not everything needs to be addressed.

Parents need to know which battles to pick and which are not worth it and how behaviours can be addressed in simple uncomplicated ways instead of fighting with a teen, because parents seldom win a power struggle with a teen.


Yelling, arguing, or trying to force your teen to do something, won’t get you anywhere. And if you lose your temper, you have lost the battle. 

If teenagers want to dye their hair, paint their fingernails black, or wear funky clothes, think twice before you object.  Teens want to shock their parents and it's a lot better to let them do something temporary and harmless than pick battles that might push them away from you.


It might be a case of some outrageous outfit, maybe revealing way too much flesh for her age.  This is a good time to have a conversation about the importance of gaining respect from the opposite sex, how boys really look at girls dressed like that or even ask them how they would feel if a picture of them dressed like that ends up on facebook and the world looks at her in a bad way.

Discuss, not quarrel.  Reason, not bully.

Parents also have the choice of ‘selective ignoring’ which can be a very effective discipline technique. However, it needs to be used in a purposeful manner and should only be applied to certain behaviours.   These behaviours that are usually done to get your attention include, swearing, burping loudly, shouting, whining, the eye roll or facial expressions they know that you dislike.


Remember teenagers really want you to care about them and as much as they like to oppose, they are really happy to know that you expect certain standards from them and that you care.  So do not make a big fuss, talk and let them know what you expect and how much you care about what happens to them.


Parents should establish clear rules and follow through with the consequences when the rules are broken.  Let them know that you would not be forcing them to do anything but if they do not do what is expected of them, they will be consequences and these consequences should be sensible and be able to discourage unwanted behaviours.

Instead of wasting time yelling and fussing about cleaning their room or doing homework, take away their treasured electronic devices and ban friends from coming over or he or she from going out, until the chore or home work is properly done.  There needs to be no shouting or pleading, it is a simple case of not being responsible in one way, then you can not enjoy the luxuries given to responsible persons.


Make your teen take responsibility for his behaviour. The goal should be for your teen to make a healthy decision on his own, not because you begged and pleaded with him to do something. When your teen learns to do behave responsibly, he’ll make better decisions when he’s on his own, which should be your ultimate goal in disciplining your teen.


Always Address The Most Important Behaviours

You need to give your teenager some space, the freedom to make his or her own choices, to make mistakes and try new ideas, styles and different things.  If the behaviour cannot cause hurt to anyone or any serious long term consequences, leave it alone.  For instance, not doing home work one night because he or she is tired should not be a big deal, but you would not allow it to be a habit. 


If the teen stays out a few minutes after curfew for one night, you can speak to him without it being a big deal but you would warn him not to do it again as there are consequences for breaking rules.


You should never ignore serious behaviours, like smoking, drinking or violent behaviour towards anyone.  These are the issues that must be dealt with very seriously and from the time they first happen.

If this seems a bit difficult for you to handle without getting too upset or you think that you might not handle it effectively, do not hesitate to get help through a counsellor, psychologist or medical professional found right here on this site.

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