Are you teen-ready?
Your ability to remain calm, clear, consistent and firm is key in building a relationship with your teen.
One of the first and most important skills of effective parenting of teens, is to ensure that your own emotional tanks are kept considerably above the “empty” mark. Your ability to remain calm, clear, consistent and firm when confronted by their illogical and determined attempts to wear you down, will be the key to the eventual outcome of your relationship with them.

Common questions parents of teens ask

How do I answer: “but all my friends are…”?

The first thing is to establish your firm ground rules. Your teen needs to be told what the non-negotiable rules are. eg that there will be no clubbing – not even at the u18 nights, until she is a certain age (eg 16).  When she asks you, and puts pressure on you, try to calmly remind her of the rule.

However, it is good to show her that you do understand her feelings, by saying something like “I can see that you really want to go, and that you are angry with me for saying no, but I am afraid that you are only 14, and it is not acceptable”

When she starts with all the pressure and angry outbursts, still remain calmly focused on the issue at hand – do not be side-tracked into defending yourself – or allowing her to pull you into a power struggle.

“I am sorry if all your friends are allowed to go, but we have made a rule and I intend to stick to it.”  Then, if the ranting goes on, shift into a higher gear and say “I am not prepared to put up with more of your rude insults. Unless you stop, you will have your cell-phone confiscated for the rest of the day”  Then, if she chooses to continue, “I see you have chosen to have your phone confiscated.”   End of story!!

How do I stop my teen smoking?   

This is a tough one. The issue here is that we cannot control everything that our teens do. We have to trust that we have given them a reasonably good foundation to help them cope with the pressures that this stage will bring. But there is no way you can be there all the time – and they will fall victim to a degree of peer pressure and they will experiment along their journey towards independence and the choices they have to make for the development of their own values and lifestyle choices.

All you can do is to be very clear about the rules and limits in your home “There is no smoking in our home” Then make it very clear what the consequence will be if he chooses to break your rule “If I find out that you have broken this rule, you will have....pocket money deducted, no friends allowed for a specific period of time “etc. You need to remember that teenagers will become even more rebellious and defiant if you are too controlling.

What about dagga and alcohol?   

Even in the best of homes where the relationships have been positive and open, teens will almost always be tempted to try out some or other banned substance.  It is important that they know very clearly the dangers inherent in these situations. They also need to know that you will trust them – until this trust is broken. In this case, there will be very definite consequences ...and tell them what these will be. Do not make threats you cannot carry out.

Then, if you do find out that they smoked a “joint” at a party or came home under the influence of alcohol, you can remain calmly firm. If you are too upset/angry/furious state how you feel via an I message:  “I am very upset and disappointed that you have chosen to break my trust in you. I need to calm down before we talk about the consequences” In this way, you will be able to have a more coherent conversation at a later stage.

Stick to the issue. Do not stoop to name-calling or judgmental comments – this will only cloud the issue and lead to angry defensiveness from your teen. It is a fatal mistake to go back on a consequence you have imposed and an even worse one to “save” your teen. Often the serious drug-related problems could have been nipped in the bud earlier – but well-meaning parents have jumped in too quickly to protect their child from the consequences of their actions.

The most important part of the disciplining of teens is that you work hard at maintaining the best possible relationship with them. The discipline can only be as effective as the relationship within which it is handled!   

Are parents of teens clued up? How do you cope with these difficult times?

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