Parenting a Teenager

Social scientists have determined that teeagers accept responsibility for a behavior when they believe that they have chosen to perform it in the absence of outside pressures.

Giving rewards for what you want is external pressure—really a bribe—because it is used to control. It may get teenagers to perform a certain action, but it won’t get them to except responsibility for the act. Consequently, they  won’t feel committed to it. The same is true of a strong threat; it may motivate immediate compliance, but it is unlikely to produce long-term commitment.

This has very important implications for rearing teenagers. It suggests that we should never bribe or threaten them to do the things we want them to believe in.

Outside pressures will produce temporary compliance. However, if you want more than just that—if we want the teenager to believe in the correctness of what they have done, if we want them to continue to perform the desired behavior when we are not present—then we must somehow arrange for them to except responsibility for the actions we want them to take. Learn more.

Please share if you have had experiences in rewarding or threatening that does or does not not prompt commitment.