The more respected your teens feel, the more open they will be with you. The more power you share with them (without abdicating your role as a parent), the more trusted they will feel and in time, the more cooperative.
Parental coercion invites resistance. Rigid parental rules invite the breaking of those rules. How then, ask parents so often, do we get our teens “to behave”?
- First and above all, learn to really listen to your teenager. This means to listen without bias or “agenda.” (More on How to Listen to Teens)
- Remove yourself from power struggles. Instead, allow your teen experience the consequences of his/her misbehavior.
- Don’t try to get revenge when your teen is being hurtful or difficult. Explore the possibility that your teen is also feeling hurt or distressed, and does not know how to reach out for help.
- Foster an atmosphere of cooperation in your home, by encouraging your teen to contribute more to the household.
- Insist that your teens bear the consequences of their actions; rather than punish them, require that they take responsibility for their behavior.
- Encourage greater self-reliance; teenagers may demand “over-servicing” but ultimately feel better about themselves when they feel self-sufficient.
- Avoid criticizing your teens. Parents’ persistent comments on everything are taken as criticism and are discouraging. Rather than focusing on your teens’ inadequacies, focus on positive efforts.