Positive Discipline and Your Teen

Being the parent of a teen can be very challenging.   Teens sometimes seem intent on doing exactly the opposite of what we ask.   We have to try to remember that their job now is to find themselves as a person, to shape an identity and to figure  out what’s important to them. They often feel that their  integrity would be compromised by simply doing what we ask because we ask it.   So discipline as we usually think of it often backfires with teens.  If you come down like a sledge hammer, you can count on open rebellion. If you crack down on the rebellion instead of listening to your child’s reasons, you can count on your teen becoming a very good liar, and sneaking behind your back.  If you have a warm, affirming, open relationship where your teen feels respected and respects you, if you have relied on lots of discussion to guide your child, then you can count on easier teen years. Your child will honor your rules most of the time and will initiate negotiations about the ones that don’t work for her.  Also  kids who aren’t punished, but are lovingly guided to make reparations and solve problems, are earlier to develop internal discipline and a strong moral sense–so your teen now has the ability to make the hard choices to do what’s right, regardless of what her friends are doing.  However if you’ve relied on punishment to control your child , you may have difficulties because a parenting style that relies mostly on the threat of punishment doesn’t give a child the self discipline to manage himself. It’s time to shift to the kind of strong parent-child relationship that makes your child want to cooperate. So if you’ve been punishing, it isn’t too late.
Where to begin?

1. Commit to a respectful tone, for everyone in the household.
Try to  not yell as often.  Teens often yell and are disrespectful when they are yelled at often.

2. Focus on strengthening the relationship so that when you set a limit
or express an expectation , your child wants to please you. Make sure you have one-on-one time with each child,  in which you mostly listen. . You can’t have any influence if your kid doesn’t enjoy being with you.

3. Stop punishing.
Instead, be sure your teen knows the non-negotiable family rules.

4. Set clear expectations about what matters to you.
This will vary for every family.  These can include working during the summer, doing homework every night and chores which you have given them.

5. Give whatever support is necessary for your child to meet your expectations.
Regardless of the issue, your teen won’t necessarily know how to make things better. He needs your help. You may not know, either, but your  willingness to step in to support him in figuring out the next step will reassure him that he isn’t alone, and will go a long way toward solving the problem.

6. Foster accountability in a new way.
Worried that your child isn’t being “held accountable”? Introduce the concept of reparations. This isn’t a consequence (punishment) that you impose. This is when you ask your teen if there’s something he can do to make the situation better now. For instance, if he says something mean to his sister, he’ll need to do some repair work on that relationship. If he breaks something, he’ll need to help pay for a replacement.

These tips will go a long way in helping you to have a positive relationship with you child.

Talking About Race With Your Children

On August 11,  White nationalists marched on the campus of the University of Virginia in protest of the removal of a Confederate statue of Robert E. Lee.  This led to violence and the death of a young woman and also a resurgence of discussing race relations in the United States.

Some people say  that “racism doesn’t exists anymore” or “All Lives Matter” however continued evidence is provided to show that this is a myth.    Segregation is technically over however our society continues to have overt and covert examples of discrimination and racism.  I have recently witnessed some disturbing comments and views from people who are therapists about race, racism and discrimination which has shown me that we have a very long way to go.  For most parents in particular Black parents, this brings concerns about the safety of their family and when should they  have a conversation about racial differences and discrimination..

For most parents of color, talking about race is a natural progression of being a parent  in America.  These conversations are often difficult for both the parent and the child.  It’s important to discuss the differences in racial identity with your children and do not fall into the belief that “we don’t see color ” or “we’re all the same”.  These statements are not helpful or factual.  We all see color and we’re not all the same.    It’s important for  parents to discuss with their children that they need to treat others with respect and also explain to their children about racism and discrimination.  Parents of color should also discuss with their children how to react in racist situations or when confronted with micro aggressions.  Speaking about race with our children has many positive effects such as children are more respectful of other racial and ethnic groups and they will recognize and respond to racism and discrimination.  When talking to your children, it’s important to recognize your own views on racial issues and also be ready to manage your emotions in order to help your child.  It is also helpful to share your experiences with racial discrimination and prejudice.    While this is a difficult topic, it is very important that we discuss it with our children.