Most theories about the stress and strain of raising teens have focused on the wrong things. Factors such as physical changes, emerging sexuality, new social demands, and struggles between being a child and an adult have dominated the parenting landscape for decades. But none of these is the real reason why the teenage years are often so tumultuous.
Realize I’m not saying that raising teens is easy. It’s not. However, we’re looking for solutions in the wrong places. The truth is that this period of adolescence is difficult for both youth and parents largely because the teen becomes so independent of parents that control of the teen is difficult. In fact, the parents’ continued attempts at control often lead to … >>>
If you want to promote responsibility in your children, here is one important thing to keep in mind: Never do something for your child that they can do for themselves.
When you want the young person to do something and he or she does not, oftentimes stress is the result—for the adult. The youngster is aware of your emotions and (nonconsciously) derives a sense of power from it. What he or she is doing—or not doing—is seen as directing your emotions.
Let’s assume the youngster has a number of things to do and is lackadaisical about doing them. You remind the youngster, to no avail. Time passes. You give another reminder with the same result.
We all want to raise responsible children, but many parents often send mixed messages to their child or teen. This creates confusion about what the expected behaviors and actions really are. The misunderstanding occurs because what the parent says to do and what the parent actually does are quite different.
One of the keys to effective parenting is to know the difference between implicit and explicit modeling and how you do both each day. The fact is that parents are the first teachers. Parents are always modeling how to behave. What are you modeling and are you sending mixed messages?
One thing teachers and parents continually struggle with is getting students to do their homework. But if you review the Levels of Development, you actually have a nice framework for encouraging students to do their homework. Think of it as a “Homework Hierarchy,” which may assist in more students completing home assignments.
Using the Levels of Development for homework may encourage personal reflection and create a desire to put forth more effort. Therefore, guide your students to quickly create such a hierarchy. There’s no need to write it down. Just do it orally. Here’s an example.
LEVEL D – Motivation for doing homework is internal.
We’ve all seen or been on the receiving end of teenage rebellion. If you are a teacher, parent, or guardian of a teen, then you know these teenage years can be stressful. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be!
Most theories dealing with teens and teenage rebellion have focused on factors such as physical changes, emerging sexuality, new social pressures, and struggles between being a child and becoming an adult. As young people grow, conflicts arise. A prime reason is that the teen wants to become independent, but adults continue to exert authority with coercion and expect obedience.
Attempts to control often lead to counterwill—the natural human tendency to resist being controlled. This leads to a power struggle, … >>>
Always encourage children and students to look to themselves to solve problems, rather than relying on others. This is critical because many well-meaning parents and teachers too often do things for children that they could and should be doing themselves.
Never take on a young person’s problems if he or she is capable of meeting the challenge. The reason is that every time you solve a problem for someone who is capable of solving the problem without you, you are depriving the person of an opportunity to become more responsible. In addition, the person misses the satisfaction that arises from success.
As it has been aptly said, “If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some … >>>
If you’re tired of continually lecturing your students or children, or if you’re finding that rewards and punishments rarely change behavior long-term, it’s time to start asking reflective questions.
When you use reflective questions, you are directing the other person’s thinking. It is this questioning process that starts the thinking process, both for you and for the other person. This kind of questioning is a gift to the person being asked because it induces clarity of thought. Similarly, the answer can be a gift to the person asking because it is a quick way to obtain and understand the other person’s viewpoint.
Asking reflective questions increases your awareness of a child’s perceptions, thereby significantly increasing your understanding of the child. … >>>
If your children fear you, they cannot be honest with you. In fact, very often lying stems from fear.
Recently someone who purchased the eBook Children of Rainbow School contacted me. She wrote: “My children are fluent in the four levels—so much so that even my 3 1/2 year old is able to identify a given behavior with a particular level. We have two PDF printouts [from your web site] of the hierarchy on our fridge and the levels have become almost table talk. The problem doesn’t lie in the lack of knowledge about the different levels; the problem is a lack of honesty and not wanting to accept responsibility for what they’ve done (‘I didn’t do that,’ ‘It’s not … >>>
Many parents experience stress when it comes to the topic of children’s screen time. How much is too much? Should you restrict it? Is screen time a necessary evil? Or is screen time a positive thing? The questions are endless.
A reader sent me the following note about screen time.
“My 15-year-old spends several hours on the computer and she does not part with her phone. She does activities and is a good student, but every free moment she has is spent on Facebook or texting. The network she is on allows for free texts to certain numbers. WI-FI is free so she has Internet access on her phone. She feels that if she has done her chores, then she … >>>
Most parents I know are seeking help with stress management. Between work and family, there is always so much to do. No wonder so many parents turn to rewards and punishments in order to get their children to comply. Unfortunately, using such techniques actually makes the parent’s stress level rise. If you want true parental stress management, you need to focus on responsibility, not outdated parenting models.
Social scientists have determined that we accept inner responsibility for a behavior when we think we have CHOSEN to perform it in the absence of outside pressure, such as a large reward.
While an incentive may get us to perform a certain action, it won’t get us to accept inner responsibility … >>>
A few years ago I read an article about the top traits of good parents. Even though it’s been several years since the article’s publication, the information is timeless and I wanted to share it once again.
The following is from “WHAT MAKES A GOOD PARENT? A scientific analysis ranks the 10 most effective child-rearing practices” by Robert Epstein, Scientific American Mind, November/December 2010, pp. 46-51
The Top Traits of Good Parents
Here are 10 competencies that predict good parenting outcomes, listed roughly in order from most to least important. The skills—all derived from published studies—were ranked based on how well they predict a strong parent-child bond and children’s happiness, health, and success.
One of the keys to effective parenting is to know the difference between implicit and explicit modeling and how you do both each day. The fact is that parents are the first teachers. Parents are always modeling how to behave.
Effective Parenting is All About Modeling
Modeling is accomplished two ways. The first way is EXPLICITLY. The second way is IMPLICITLY. Here is the difference:
Explicit modeling is directed by what you actually say and do, as in always saying “thank you” and urging the young person to do the same.
Implicit modeling is indirect and learned without intentions.
The following examples from the book Parenting Without Stress demonstrate the difference between explicit and implicit modeling.
If you find that disciplining your children and fostering a sense of responsibility in them is stressful or unsuccessful, the use of traditional parenting approaches may be the problem. Why? Because traditional parenting approaches—including lectures, rewards, and punishments—rely on external motivators to change the child’s behavior and for obtain obedience and compliance.
Telling young people what to do, rewarding them if they do as expected, and threatening or punishing them if they don’t are counterproductive, increase stress, and diminish strong parent/child relationships.
Whether the approach is telling-based, rewards-based, or punishment-based, the bottom line is that it’s manipulation, which is never permanent. All of these approaches are something you do to another person and have little long-lasting effect. This is in … >>>
When I ask parents of young children if they ever say “No” to their children, I always receive an affirmative answer. “Of course.”
After all, isn’t it natural to teach young children that they can’t have evrything they want?
Yes, young people need to learn that they cannot get every thing they want. The question is, however, how do you communicate this while at the same time not not having the child develop negative feelings toward the parent or the situation.
The answer lies in adding a simple word to “NO!.”
Simply say, “Not yet.”
This simple phrase doesn’t prompt the negative feeling that “No” does while, at the same time, giving future hope.
Let’s assume your child has a number of things to do and is lackadaisical about doing them. You remind the youngster—to no avail. Time passes. Another reminder is forthcoming with the same result.
Rather than become increasingly stressed, have a chat. The conversation will revolve around those things that are to be done by the youngster. After listing them, establish a procedure for each—VERY SPECIFIC procedures.
For example, if the task is homework, the procedure should list exactly when preparations start, where the activity will take place, what materials will be used, and an understanding that there will be no distractions such as viewing television. If the activity is play of some kind, cleanup time and procedures are also listed.
Acknowledgments encourage and motivate. They serve to give recognition without the disadvantages of praise. Praise has a price. It implies a lack of acceptance and worth when the youth does not behave as the adult wishes. Using a phrase which starts with, “I like . . . .” encourages a young person to behave in order to please the adult. By contrast, acknowledgment simply affirms and fosters self-satisfaction.
Notice the difference in the following examples, first of praise followed by acknowledgment. “I am so pleased with the way you treated your brother,” versus “You treated your brother with real consideration.” “I like the way you are working,” versus “Your working shows good effort.” “I’m so proud of you for … >>>
While browsing through a thrift store, I picked up a book that a good friend had mentioned to me. Seeing it for sale at 50¢, I had no excuse not to pick it up. I’m so glad I did; it’s a great read!
The Happiness Project describes the year-long program that author, Gretchen Rubin, designed for herself in an effort to become more appreciative of the good life she already had.
To quote the book cover:
At one point [Gretchen] realized that time was flashing by and and she wasn’t thinking enough about the things that really mattered. “I should have a happiness project,” she decided. She spent the next year test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies,
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