Teenagers Behaviour And Discipline
Teenagers Behaviour And Discipline
Kairen Cullen (Educational Psychologist) gives expert video advice on: What is the best way to manage my teenager's behaviour?; How can I teach my teenager to have self-discipline?; If I impose discipline on my teenager, won't it just make them more rebellious? and more...
What is the best way to manage my teenager's behaviour?
The starting point for managing a teenager's behavior is to understand the fact that in developmental terms, teenagers are striving for independence, control, choice, and also trying to be clear about who they are in terms of their own identity and how they relate to others. If we can grasp that, we can then manage their behavior much more sensitively and empathetically. That isn't to say that we give them a free reign to do whatever they want. Guidelines and boundaries are as important as ever, but they do need to be cognizant of where their teenager is in terms of their personal development.
If I impose discipline on my teenager, won't it just make them more rebellious?
There's every chance that taking that approach, imposing discipline, is likely to set up the teenager to resist. This is inviting a head-on confrontation. If you can frame it more as a constructive, solution-finding way forward, you're much more likely to be able to work with them and then actually collaborate for their better future. So, in terms of taking a very high-handed disciplinarian approach you're not likely to be successful in getting what you want, in other words their positive behaviour and their best possible development. You really need to frame it as a collaboration and a joint exercise in which they have some choice, but obviously there are some reasonable boundaries to that.
How can I discipline my teenager without 'lecturing' them?
Lecturing implies that you are positioning yourself as a higher authority, a teacher, somebody who has all of the answers, and that can generally invite a resistance on part of the person being lectured. It leaves them out of the communication, it doesn't give them a voice, and it doesn't allow them to give their perspective. Everybody has a perspective, particularly teenagers, so that is not helpful in terms of good quality communication, and you'll do much better to change your mindset and think about it being a two way affair.
I don't want to discipline my teenager because I don't like confrontation, what should I do?
First of all, you need to be clear with yourself what the problem is in terms of setting limits to your young person's behaviors, and also why there is a problem around confrontation. This might well relate to your own history and very often, what happens with teenagers is that they reawaken memories of the parent's teenage experience. So perhaps if you've got that in order you'll then be able to approach the task much more constructively and dispassionately. It is important that you do set some limits to your young person's behavior. They actually need that and it's a very anxiety-provoking situation to not give your young person any limits at all.
My teenager and I get into a shouting match whenever I discipline them, what should I do?
When all is said and done, you are the adult in this situation. When shouting starts to develop, it means that communication is breaking down and emotions are taking over, so you need to put a check on this. You need to take a deep breath, have some time out, and try and communicate again in a more constructive and less emotional way. If they want to shout, they can shout and obviously you can't stop them, but they're going to have much less material to shout about if you don't join them.
Should I use 'grounding' as a punishment?
Grounding is one method of punishment, by basically withdrawing the things a young person likes, such as contact with peers or activities outside of the home, so it will have an effect. What I would say is that you need to use it reservedly, you shouldn't use it up, so to speak. Save it for those times when it's really important that your saying no has some kind of impact and that that results in different behaviors on the teenager's part.
My teenager refuses to do anything I tell them, what should I do?
Perhaps the clues to what you should do are in the words – ‘tell them'. If you tell any individual to do something, there's much more chance of them refusing than if you actually invite them to do things or offer them a choice of things to do. Maybe you should try to offer choices of behaviours or actions. And perhaps you need to work hard to engage them in terms of giving them reasons to want to take the choices that you're offering.
My teenager ignores me, what should I do?
When somebody ignores another, it's signaling that communication has broken down. The lack of respect, the lack of regard, so there's very important groundwork to do. Somehow, you have to re-establish good quality communication. The best way is always to model that, but also to keep trying to be optimistic in terms of speaking to and with your teenager. Over time it's likely that they will then stop to ignore you and engage more with you. You obviously can't force them to communicate with you but you shouldn't give up hope. You should also take reassurance in the fact that this is commonplace situation that develops between teenagers and their parents. In other words, it's part of a normal developmental pattern. It will come around, it will change if you keep the faith and take confidence in your capacity to re-engage them.
My teenager says I'm always nagging, what should I do?
There's probably an element of truth in their accusation, so you need to look at the way that you are communicating with your teenager. If you are saying the same thing again, and again, and it's always negative, it's time to change. It is time to insert something positive, and constructive, so that they will engage with you, and actually give you something to be positive about.
Whenever I say 'no' to my teenager, they go behind my back and ask my partner, what should I do?
This situation is really flagging up a division between you and your partner, and your young person is very helpfully highlighting this division and working it for all it's worth. The first thing is to actually put that in order. That means you have to spend some time improving your joint parenting and actually agreeing what's important for both of you and working together. If there is any difference, you can be sure that a young person whose sole agenda is their own wants and wishes, it will be exploited.
Should I negotiate with my teenager?
On the whole, I'd say yes. There are, perhaps, a few points, such as personal safety, where a young person does need some very firm guidelines which you do actually need to lay down. But on the whole, where you can negotiate, that would be very helpful and it will satisfy your teenager's need for choice and some control, some autonomy, and the feeling that their view counts.
Should I shame my teenager when they misbehave?
On no occasion should you use shame - it's a form of bullying. It's a form of emotional abuse. You should not seek to make somebody feel worse about themselves. Your aim as a parent is to build your young person up, not to an unrealistic level, up to a position where they may be disadvantaged or vulnerable. But to use shame is not constructive, it's not respectful and it does not actually solve any problems.
Should I make my teenager feel guilty when they misbehave?
Feeling guilty is something that actually blocks constructive action and learning. It's a negative emotion which generally does not move things on, and you're actually consciously contributing to your teenager feeling guilty which is not a particularly honest or congruent thing to do. I don't think that is a good strategy at all.
Should I be sarcastic to my teenager?
Sarcasm, you just have to ask yourself how you feel when you're treated with sarcasm. The person, the perpetuator who uses sarcasm is possibly putting themself in a more powerful position and making themselves feel better, but it doesn't have anything but a negative effect on the person it's being used with.
Should I let my teenager out alone at night?
It's a really difficult area, because obviously every individual teenager and parent is unique, so the level of responsibility and independence you can make available to them will actually vary enormously. There is no firm guideline, there's no recipe or prescription saying exactly when young people are ready to have that independence. On the whole, it's better if when they do go out at night, it's not on their own but with friends. They're generally likely to be more safe. Obviously the context for them going out, where they're going, is an important factor you have to bear in mind.
Should I set a curfew for my teenager?
I prefer the term 'time scale' to curfew. Curfew has too many connotations of some kind of prison sentence, and after all you want to work with your youngster, not act as a prison warden. So yes, it's important to set some boundaries and to communicate clearly what your expectations are, and if the boundaries are broken and you've discussed and agreed these, then obviously you then have to think about some possible sanctions such as withdrawal of privileges. But the main thing is that you approach it as a joint agreement and you give good reasons for this time scale, and the chances are that your young person will fall in line with that.
Should I tell my teenager what to wear?
It's a very personal thing how you present yourself to the world, and it's also a way of expressing individuality - these are hugely important to teenagers. If you try to control in this area to too much of a degree, it's not going to be helpful, and all it's going to do is invite resistance and rebellion. Do not try and control what your teenager wears. However, there are a few exceptions to that advice, and in the situation perhaps where a young person is exposing themselves to ridicule or making themselves vulnerable, then it is obviously your duty as a parent to tell them what you think. If it's presenting them as being too sexualized and therefore vulnerable, it's also your duty to explain that to your young person, so that they can reconsider and maybe moderate how they're going out.
My teenager regularly tells lies, is this normal?
Normal is a very problematic concept. Is it normal for teenagers to use lies to get what they want. Now and again, yes, but it's the degree of lying that you need to be clear about. If it's to a degree where they're losing sight of the actual truth, that's a very worrying situation and it needs to be addressed. If lying has reached the stage where the young person themselves isn't clear about what is actually happening in reality, you might well need some professional help and you might well seek that through your local educational psychology service or through your local child and family consultation service where maybe counseling input is in order.
My teenager has been caught stealing, what should I do?
It really depends on the scale of the crime so-to-speak. If stealing has happened with somebody they know and it's something of a relatively small value, then it may be something that can be put right between the individuals concerned. If it's on a larger scale and it actually constitutes a criminal offense, then this is something that you'll have to take extremely seriously and you'll have to get clear about the motivations behind the stealing and also find out whether or not it's part of a pattern in the young person's behavior. Very often when young people steal, it's because they have an unmet need in their general life situation that needs looking at and putting right and sometimes it may well be signaling some emotional difficulty that also needs putting right, probably through some kind of therapeutic input.