I interviewed Kim Francia, BCBA this past week. She is a Behavior Analyst on our staff. She has close to 10 years of experience working with families and behavior problems. And she is a parent of teenagers.
I asked her to share some strategies for parenting a teenager. We came up with these principles:
1. Make sure you’re in charge when they’re children! This means being consistent. ‘No’ means no. If you ask them to do something, they don’t get away with NOT doing it. This means rewarding good behaviors and punishing bad behaviors. Remember:
All children need to learn two things:
They don’t get what they want all the time.
They have to do some things that they don’t want to do.
2. Transition away from a punishment-based parenting style to a privileges-based parenting style. Think about what you wanted when you were a teenager. PRIVILEGES. You wanted a permit, you wanted to stay out later, to go to concerts and places by yourself, to choose your own friends, and the power to decide if you attended a family outing or not.
The one thing that I have learned, and Kim agreed, was that you cannot punish teenagers into growing up!
3. A Privileges-Base Strategy says, “If you want to be treated like a 16-year old (privileges) then you have to act like a 16-year old (mature behaviors). These might include:
Get yourself up every morning.
Passing all of your classes in school.
Taking care of your hygiene on a daily basis.
Managing your emotions.
And most important:
Being were you say you’re going to be!
4. This one’s simple: let the “School of hard Knocks” kick in! If they don’t want to work, get used to being poor. If they want a permit, the state has academic requirements.
5. Lastly, Kim and I both agree that you must preserve your relationship with your teen. Parenting a teen can take its toll on the relationship. If you remain upset with them for days on end, then rethink the strategy that your using. We’ve seen parent and teens that, simply put, cannot stand each other, never talk and can’t wait to live separately. It doesn’t have to be that way.
You absolutely need to keep taking!
6. Finally (again), before things get really bad, bring yourself and your teen in for some family therapy. True North Counseling specializes in working with teens and their parents. Honestly, it’s the most fun that I have; helping parents help their teens grow up!