Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Where it used to be Dr Spock it's now Ask Jeeves - RM column May 25

THE internet is a fantastic resource for parents, with all sorts of advice from all sorts of people. The beauty of it all is that you can read something that makes you think ‘why didn’t I think of that?

Years ago people turned to Dr Spock I am more like to turn to Ask Jeeves or Google.

One recent site I came across had some really good advice about dealing with a teenager in six easy points and they generally made a lot of sense to me.

Firstly the website said to stop focusing on what you are going to make your teenager do, it doesn’t work.

While this may sound vague I realise I spend probably too much time spotting things the Young Wan has or hasn’t done about the house and they turn into a mental checklists which invariably never gets ticked off.

So a lot of energy and frustration goes into this for me and maybe there is a lot to be said for this point. My only question is how does anything get done then, is it because it is all down to me then? Mmhhhh think I will think over that for a while.

Stop lecturing is the next one and I wholeheartedly agree with this, but will it mean that I stop, probably not.

I suppose that when I was a teenager and was on the receiving end of a lecture, I probably switched off just as much as the Young Wan does now.

Unfortunately though much of a parents’ interaction with their teenagers could be seen to be lectures. So does that mean we just shut up? Would that work better? The advice on the internet tells parents to impart information to their teenager in short bursts, possibly in the car when the parent has a captive audience.

Is that not more akin to ambushing, sounds good to me.

When talking to teens parents should stop using adultisms. You know them, they are the phrases when you were young that you never thought you would say to your kids.

Then one day you find yourself saying something that you heard from your parents. ‘Money doesn’t grow on trees’, ‘Ask my friend am I a liar’ or ‘I’ll give you (insert word here)’ as in ‘I’ll give you new mobile’, and we all know that doesn’t mean you are going to get them a new mobile.

If your teen has their teen monster moments, you may have to punish them by grounding them and the site tells you not to ground teenagers for long periods of time except for the most enormous of teen-crimes.

It says: “For adults, two weeks is like a snap of the fingers – gone. For most teens, two weeks seems like forever, which causes diminishing positive results the longer the grounding. Consequences need to be strong enough to get their attention, swift enough after the infraction to have an effect and short term so they can have another chance to do better soon.”

I think this is possibly one of the best pieces of advice I have read and actually learned from our own household. Once teenagers are constantly punished they act out, they might as well because they are already in the bad books.

Another piece of advice concerns something I realised I did about a year ago and it concerns reasoning with your child about rules they do not like or when you say no.

The advice is there are times when because I said so is a perfectly reasonable statement from a parent and all a teenager should be told.

I found myself at one stage that I would say to herself ‘bring out the rubbish because when that is brought out I can brush the floor then I can get the dishes away and dinner on’.

Now I go ‘bring the rubbish out’.

I was misguided thinking that if the Young Wan understood my train of thought that things would get better and faster, wrong.

The last gem says stop making every issue a battle for control and who is in charge. If you do this your teen could make every issue a battle for independence. Pick your battles, leave the hard stuff for big things and make your stand then.

This is something I have realised also, and apart from anything if you were to pull rank over everything, your home life will soon be miserable for everybody.

Do check out the site here http://www.parentingyourteenager.com/parentsteens6stop.htm and do look for more on the internet, there’s a wealth of support there which can be invaluable even just to know that other parents are having the same issues in their home.

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