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Getting Your Kid On-Board: Parenting Hacks for Uncooperative Kids

tantrumHaving children is the most wonderful and rewarding experience a person can have in their life. Unfortunately, those sweet chubby-faced kids grow up into sweet, stubborn teenagers whose sole purpose is to challenge everything we say. I once heard a life coach say that “Every parent gets one teenager that they could strangle and God would understand.” (He was kidding, guys! Relax!) Before you decide to throw your hands up in despair or wring a neck, try these parenting hacks to help you get your kids on board.

Give Them Some Control

As your teenager stands on the precipice of adulthood, they will want to exert some independence. Giving them a little leeway can help lessen the power struggle. Start with giving them options and letting them decide on basic decisions in their life. Getting braces? Let them choose between traditional and Invisilign braces (teens tend to prefer Invisilign, but consult with your orthodontist because they aren’t appropriate for every situation). Let them choose the decorations they put in their room, with guidance of course. Controlling decisions such as these, will allow them to feel as though they have a voice when it comes to relatively important decisions and that their parents respect their right to self-expression.

New York Times Best-Selling Author Rachel Cruze discusses the relationship between boundaries and independence this way: “Picture an imaginary rope tied around your waist. I am holding the other end of the rope. The length of the rope is entirely up to me. A longer rope means you have more freedom to explore and make decisions, and a shorter rope means I have to rein you in a bit due to trust or behavioral issues…imagine your teenager is at a high school party where adult beverages are flowing. If he calls you, tells you what’s going on, and asks you to come pick him up, then guess what? He just earned more rope because he showed the ability to make good decisions. Kids want to be treated like adults. I used to say that to my parents all the time, and Dad always answered, ‘If you want to be treated like an adult, then act like an adult. Show me I can trust you, and I will.’”

Clearly Establish the Rules and the Consequences

Decide the rules you want your teenager to follow and predetermine the consequences. Parenting expert Dr. Beg Meeker says, “[Teens] need to learn self-control by setting rules for themselves, but the only way they learn this is by first having rules imposed on them. Over time, they learn to impose rules on themselves. If your son refuses to obey your rules, he will never learn self-discipline, and he can’t be happy without this.” See the rest of Dr. Meeker’s article here.

Sit down with your teenager and go over these rules and consequences so that you are both on the same page. You typically want a small number of clearly-defined boundaries, rather than a long list of do’s and don’ts that will be hard to remember. As much as they will argue this point, teenagers appreciate and respond to basic structure. This approach helps avoid the fight when they break the rules. By understanding the consequences before they break they rule they may decide to not break it in the first place.

20 Questions Is Not Fun for Either of You

When the kids were small, they would hop off the bus with excitement to tell mom about their day. Not anymore. Don’t give your teenager the third degree – that will cause them to shut down. Instead, create a safe, judgment-free environment where they know you will listen when they want to talk. Of course the basic questions need to be asked, but a daily interrogation is not necessary. Your kids will take advantage of an open door policy with you, but it needs to be on their terms. The catch is, you need to be ready to LISTEN to them when they are ready to talk (this is harder than it sounds).

Raising teenagers can make the saintliest of parents want to pull their hair out. Before you invest in a wig, try giving them a little more control, be willing to listen and establish rules and consequences. These parenting hacks will bring you one step closer to getting you the relationship you want with your kids.


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