Parenting Matters: Your changing adolescent

  • Wednesday, April 18, 2018 1:30am
  • Life

Upsetting vs. persuading statements

Sometimes it isn’t the way your teen behaves that needs some changing, it is also the way he talks. As he grows closer to adulthood, you teen also learns how to get and use power in the words he uses. At times teens may poke, push, and run over parents with their words. Work with your teen to teach him to use words that don’t cause you to become angry or upset.

Here are some examples of upsetting statements and persuading statements:

I’m not your slave. This doesn’t seem fair.

You can’t make me. Can we talk about this?

You’re not my boss. I’d like a choice.

Shut up. I need to take a break.

I’ll do what I want. I need to try.

I hate you. I didn’t like what you said.

Sure, your teen wants and even needs an ever increasing amount of independence. These teen years are the last step before he becomes legally an adult. So how should a parent handle their teens’ growing need for independence?

This is a time to continue to give more and more decisions over to him. It is not the time to give up all the decisions. It isn’t just a matter of letting go — it is a matter of letting go safely.

You are the adult who has the best ability to decide how fast independence arrives. If he gets a ticket, it is still time to take the car away. If he fails a class, privileges need to be postponed. If he isn’t always truthful, some action should happen. If he talks back or is disrespectful, it is still time to limit his time away from home. If he doesn’t come home at the required time, he may still need to be limited on how late he stays out the next time.

On the other hand, if you see that he drives carefully, talk about it and extend his driving privileges. If he is doing well at school, let him know how pleased you are and praise him to others. If he levels with you and tells the truth, be open to requests he may make to you.

If you see his grades improving, give him hugs and let him know how proud of his progress you are. If he calls to tell you he will be slightly late, you should thank him for letting you know instead of any punishment.

We know that adolescence is a tumultuous time for him. When you see him behaving responsibly, make sure you spend as much time telling him how pleased you are as you would spend telling him how unhappy you were if he did the wrong thing.

In fact, when you see irresponsibility, go slower than when you see him doing the right thing. Take it step by step.

Pay attention to what your teen is saying and help him learn to express himself in a positive manner even when he is angry.

As children grow older, boundaries become fewer. Boundaries, however, are something we all live with. We have speed boundaries, voting boundaries, violence boundaries and many others. What boundaries are appropriate for your teen?

Here are some expectations for your growing teen. Is he expected to behave in a friendly manner toward family and others? Is he accepting of a short list of reasonable and fair rules and responsibilities. Does he communicate in an open honest manner with his family at all times? Does he use his pleasant voice or does his anger show in how he talks?

You want your teen to voluntarily cooperate and assume increased responsibility as he grows older. You hope that rules and requirement change as he grows more mature.

With increased maturity you should hear statements that include “Thank you” and “How thoughtful of you.” In reality, you are really only looking for more adult behavior from your growing teenager.

Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. To reach current First Teacher Executive Director Nicole Brewer, email or call 360-681-2250.

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