Kind and firm parenting for teenagers
Has your child’s behaviour ever left you feeling challenged, threatened, provoked or defeated? If your child is a teenager, the answer will probably be YES!
I know, raising adolescents is a task that involves infinite challenges and the biggest one might be how to discipline them in a kind, firm and encouraging way. We all know that facing the teenage years of your children could be interpreted as living in a war zone and that is exactly when firmness and kindness can disappear and be replaced by less encouraging parenting methods, such as authoritarianism or permissiveness.
So if you’re wondering how to navigate through the adolescence years of your child and get your family to the young adult years within a respectful and loving environment, Positive Discipline is your answer. Just keep in mind that during adolescence teenagers are trying to find out who they are while distancing themselves from their parents. Do not take it personally!
So, what is Positive Discipline? Based on Adlerian Psychology and the understanding that discipline must be taught and that discipline teaches; it is a model aimed to teach young people important life and social skills to become responsible, respectful and resourceful members of their communities. In other words, Positive Discipline teaches parents how to apply kindness and firmness in equal measure towards their children, and is neither permissive nor punitive.
Positive Discipline reinforces mutual respect, where adults display firmness by respecting themselves and the needs of the situation, and kindness by respecting the needs of the child. Also, it identifies beliefs behind behaviours, recognising the reasons teenagers do what they do and works to change those beliefs, rather than only trying to change behaviour. It improves communication and problem solving skills; focusing on solutions instead of punishment and encourages effort and improvement, not merely success. This builds long-term self-esteem and empowerment.
Therefore, the next time your teen’s behaviour leaves you feeling challenged, threatened, provoked or defeated, take your time to calm down and try to employ these kind and firm strategies:
- Allow them to have the time to recognise when they have been wrong and to reflect on it. Ask “what and how” questions to help your teenager explore the consequences of his/her decisions. Do it with respect and curiosity, avoiding questions that begin with “why”, which imply blame.
- Show you understand the situation by sharing a time when you had a similar experience.
- When correcting your teenager, make it clear that what is inappropriate is the action and not him/her as an individual.
- Decide with respect what you will do, making an agreement with your teenager and be willing to follow it through. Try to state what you will do instead of what you will try to make him/her do.
- Teach your teenager how to apologise and discuss ways to prevent the behaviour from happening again.
- Never do or say anything that will negatively affect your relationship. Always look towards bringing yourself and your teenager closer.
And on a regular basis, try the following:
- Set rules and boundaries.
- Avoid authoritative explanations such as “because I said so.”
- Do not be permissive.
- Do not automatically give in to your teenagers demands. They need to learn how to overcome frustrations.
- Establish routines where you involve your teenager.
- Create a predictable environment. Teenagers, like everybody, need routines.
- Positively acknowledge your teenager’s progress, which will strengthen their self-esteem.
- Involve your teenager in making decisions. It will strengthen his/her sense of independence.
- Share the rules, boundaries and their reasons with other caregivers (grandparents, uncles, etc.)
Bear in mind that your teenager needs a kind and firm parenting style that shows your love and respect; creating balance, communication and respect within your family.
Note: If you want to learn more about this fascinating topic, I strongly recommend reading – Positive Discipline for Teenagers: Empowering Your Teens and Yourself Through Kind and Firm Parenting.