Sticks and carrots.
In my last post, I discussed the 3 types of rules you set with your teen and how your teen may perceive them. In this post, we’ll discuss how to establish consequences for breaking rules and the importance of praising your child when they follow rules.
When setting rules with your teen, make sure the consequences of breaking those rules are very clear. Exactly which consequences you decide to implement will depend on your own preferences. One suggestion from Annie Drake in Help Me… I Have a Teenager!! is a menu of consequences for both minor and major infractions. Consequences for breaking minor rules may include writing essays and apologies, doing chores, or a loss of privileges.
One concern I have with including chores — or homework as is also suggested by Drake — is that chores and homework are things your child should be doing anyway. Treating these tasks as punishment may send the wrong message to your child, that if they are “good” they don’t have to do these tasks.
The idea of using essays as a consequence of breaking rules is an interesting approach, especially if you provide a framework for helping your child see why they should not be engaging in the behavior that broke the rule.
Major consequences can include performing community service and losing privileges for an extended period. As we’ll see later on, doing volunteer work in the community is also a great way to build self-esteem.
Praising the positive
Don’t forget to give your child positive feedback. It’s human nature to focus on the negative, and teens often think their parents exist only to give them a hard time. So, one great way to improve your teen’s self-esteem and build their confidence is to catch them doing something right. When you notice this, make sure you tell them. Say, “Thank you for coming home on time,” or “You were really nice to your brother this afternoon. I appreciate it.”
In my next post, I’ll discuss why teens rebel. Sometimes the reason may not be what you think.
Thanks for reading! This is an excerpt from my book 13 Ways to Talk About 13 Reasons Why, and in the next few months I’ll continue to post excerpts as I rewrite the book for a more general audience.