Is Discipline a word ugly when it comes to teenagers?

Making Teen Discipline Work For You

Many of us may find ourselves triggered into old patterns of arguing and conflict when faced with a teen who is in full flight of giving you the cold shoulder or what I call ' chucking has 'wobbly'. We may even find ourselves saying things to them that our parents said and which we hated hearing when we were teens.

Disciplining teens - sounds like a potential battle of control of wills and at times a yell fest. If you are feeling exhausted by the constant push you feel in your relationship with your daughter - consider focusing on the following in order to turn things around: a) building an environment of respect, b) negotiation around reasonable behaviour and, c) praise when good behaviour is demonstrated in your daughter's journey into adulthood.

Research has found that there are 4 types of parenting using dimensions of affection and control (or love and authority) which produce different outcomes for teenagers. What has been most productive have been parents who have consistently stood strongly in their love as well as in their authority. This can be a fine balance and can challenge our ability to find the right degrees of each and at the appropriate times. How to have the fierceness of a lioness, the cool detachment of a yogi and the humour of Bob Hope. It's not going to be one thing but choosing different ways of being at different times in order to keep an engaged relationship and keep your cool.

The two fundamental principles in teen discipline:

1 Being are - this is a principle that is true right through out child rearing and is particularly true with teens who will be testing the boundaries every inch of the way. They get frustrated when a behaviour is acceptable one day and not acceptable the next.
o Are you clear in yourself around the boundaries in your home?
o Have you made these transparent with your daughter? Is she aware of what would happen if a boundary was crossed?
o Do they need updating? Rules and boundaries will need to change as your daughter gets older.
It is a good idea to involve her in the rules and ask her to consider consequences if they're broken. She will feel heard by you and it gets away from a 'lecturing' style of parenting.
o Realistic and consistent consequences are part of her school and community
o Creating rules and boundaries at home with consequences, then responding appropriately in a consistent way creates an environment of security and management for your teen girl.

2 Listening - the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain is about compassion, reasoning and empathy. It is still developing in teens and develops through experience. Through learnt behaviour from modelling and role models. Stand for being listened to and model respect through listening to your teen. Even when disagreeing, it is important to allow your daughter time to express her feelings and thoughts. Modelling 'clean arguing' and developing guidelines around appropriate behaviours around conflict is important for her in all her relationships. Again consistency is important here and you leading by example.

What To Look Out For When Setting A Punishment.

3 Pick up and respond to inappropriate behaviour early. Try not punish in anger - when we punish in anger or frustration it's probably a sign that we may have worn out our patience or have let things go on for far too long. A burst of sudden anger can have a dramatic effect but will ultimately create blocks in communication. Teens will often shut down around parents revert to who always getting angry and yelling. You can lose respect and may simply create a teen that mimics your behaviour to siblings or back at you. Consistency is important here so that your teen ideally starts to manage and monitor her own behaviour. If you feel your heat rising try stepping away from the situation to cool down and recover emotionally.

4 Make your punishment under - It should be reflective of the wrongdoing. For example, if your daughter arrived late from an agreed time limiting her night's out temporarily would be appropriate. A social event may be missed if school work hasn can't been completed in order to complete the work. Most teens respond to punishments that are covered as fair.

5 Hold an expectation for good behaviour - Whilst you are trying to understand that your teen daughter may be on a hormonal roller coaster with major emotional and psychological changes it doesn't mean she can behave in a mean or nasty way. Include behavioural expectations need be related to what is right and a foundation created around shared values.

6 Reasoning is a powerful tool with your daughter given that there is a very big part of her that wants to be taken seriously, valued and heard. Reasoning may not always seem to sink in immediately or have an immediate visible effect but the long-term effects will be more evident and positive.

7. Try and remember that you are the parent, yes, a loving parent. But NOT a friend (of course, a friendly parent), but, not her friend. Your daughter will usually have plenty of her own friends. She will need the safety and security of boundaries and guidance you offer her as a parent. This may include at times supporting her around saying 'no' to her friends and at times being the 'bad guy' simply because at times the answer will be 'no.' This is important as it's modeling how to say 'no' when she will inevitably have to be in that position herself. Teens who view their parents as authority figures and providers are more likely to be close to them in adulthood. We know you were once a teen and relating some of your experiences can be a really valuable way of working through some challenges. Standing in your authority creates a safe container for her to occasionally push against, feel her own boundaries and grow in.

8 Address the behaviour not the girl - You might be feeling like your teen is testing your boundaries all the time. It's really important to have the capacity to hang in there, be the bigger person (the adult), put aside your hurt and frustration at times and make sure she knows you love her despite what she does. Importantly, that you love her enough not to let her develop behaviours that may be harmful to herself or anyone else. Direct your complaints and comments at the behaviour, not the girl. Try to keep your complaints short and to the point, it will ensure you have an engaged teen. (this tip applies to spouses and family and friends in general)

With problematic behaviour try and avoid name calling, and put downy language like: "you're lazy" or "that was stupid." Focus on the behaviour that created the problem such as not studying or not asking for needed help. Make sure she gets some positive strokes. E.g. let her know that you're confident she can change things around and are going to work with her to make sure the behaviour improves.

11 Give your daughter space to fail or mess up. This is part of her psychological growth and development in real life skills for the future. Often failures are wonderful opportunities for learning and deepening strength of character. Again, avoid the lecturing purpose help her reflect on what she might do differently.

Please do write to me if you have any questions about this.
and good luck
May the force be with you

Shushann Movsessian MAppSc.(Soc Ecol), Dip.Teach, clinical member CAPA
Counsellor, Coach, Trainer
P.O. Box 83 Waverley NSW 2024
Mobile: 0410 324 134

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