Struggling to change your teen’s behavior? You’re not alone. Teenagers can be stubborn and struggle against any attempts to control their behavior. But teaching your child to exhibit positive, healthy, and effective behaviors is an important part of parenting.
They might not appreciate your efforts now, but they will when they get older.
Changing your teen’s behavior requires a plan. Try these strategies:
- Emotional drama isn’t necessary. Yelling and high levels of emotion are rarely effective. Your teen is only energized to be more resistant. Some actually enjoy the fact that you’re emotionally compromised. Stay calm.
- Focus on what your child loves to do. Electronic items are popular – cell phones, TV, laptops, video games, and portable music players. Perhaps your child loves sports or fashionable clothes. What privilege would serve as an effective deterrent for your teen if they had to do without?
- Rewards and punishments are teen specific. Each teen is a unique individual. One teen might live for video games, while another is disinterested. A cell phone seems to be the most important thing in the world to some teens, but not to others. There isn’t a master list of rewards and punishments. Your creativity is key.
- Be consistent. All the threats in the world are eventually ignored if you fail to keep your word. Ensure that you follow through. Your teen will respect you more if do what you say you’re going to do. Keep your word.
- Punish by removing privileges. As an example, you might take your son’s iPhone from him for failing to complete his homework. It’s difficult to encourage good behavior via punishment alone, so build some rewards into your plan, too.
- Restore those privileges when better behavior is observed. When your son completes his homework for two days in a row, you can return his phone. This way, your son gets practice performing the proper behavior – completing his homework. He is then rewarded for his good behavior.
- Avoid bribing. You can’t bribe your way to good behavior any more effectively than you can rely solely on punishment to establish good behavior. Avoid bribing at all costs. An effective mindset is: “Your poor behavior led to the loss of this privilege, and your good behavior will restore it.”
- Reward good behavior, but do so after the fact. Avoid promising a reward for good behavior before the task. For example, it would be fine to say, “You got an A on your physics exam! Let’s go out to dinner.” This is more effective than, “I’ll take you out to dinner if you get an A.”
- Be reasonable, but avoid negotiation. As a parent, you’re supposed to be in control. Allowing a child to negotiate punishment and rewards puts the control in your teen’s hands. Set reasonable consequences and stick to your guns.
- Be patient. If your plans aren’t working, first give it time. Many teens will pretend they don’t care about their punishment just to prove a point.
- If you’re still not seeing results after some time has passed, take it a step further. Remove an additional privilege.
- Ensure that your child isn’t circumventing your punishment. For example, your teen might be texting from the computer, instead of via her cell phone which is in your pocket.
It can seem impossible to alter your teen’s behavior for the better. Remove your ego from the equation and try a new approach.
Allow your teen to control the outcome with their behavior. Bad behavior results in the loss of a privilege. Your child has the control to earn it back by exhibiting proper behavior. Be patient and stay consistent!