Struggling with your Teen

Jazzy hands - Emo kids

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Stop struggling!  I say this to you only because I am saying it to myself.  I feel that I have made the shift from trying to control and letting go.

Last night, my 18 year old wanted to go to a college party on a school night and final night.

Naturally I said “No”.  He pleaded, begged and did a great job of arguing until my husband caved.  The deal was struck.  He could go but if he wasn’t ready to go to school in the morning on his own – grounded for a month.  The stakes were set high!

Guess what happened.  He got up, showered and ready to go before me.

About a month ago, a very smart and great counselor suggested I read a little book, published in 84 for Teenagers, Stop Struggling with Your Teen by Evonne Weinhaus and Karen Friedman.

The following is a few highlights from the book.  Basically, you and I want to remember, the goal is cooperation not coercion.

A good place to start is to discuss with your teen the consequences for their behavior before the problem occurs.  For example, if you teen begins to drive, let him know what will happen if he should ever drive under the influence of alcohol.

When dealing with problems involving drugs/alcohol use, consult a professional.

When problems involve the law, insurance, drugs, etc. you need to know the facts in order to protect yourself and to relate consequence to your teen.

Make sure you are willing to follow through with whatever “consequences” you decide to implement. Failure to do so will minimize the significance of the problem.

Big advice for the Santa Cruz culture: Don’t try to deal with the problem while your child is under the influence of any drug.

Action Step: Identify the parent’s part of the problem. Create a paragraph that you can use to turn responsibility over to your teen and address the parent’s part using some of the helpful skills and a statement of action.

Try to begin with negotiation whenever appropriate. Encourage your teens to come up with ideas about how a problem could be worked out as well as the consequences will be if they don’t fulfill their part of the agreement.  The more input your teen has in setting up reasonable rules and consequences, the more chance you have that it will work.  This works great with young children as well.  It’s amazing how my kids always come up with harsher and more imaginative consequences than I would.

Follow the four steps in order:

Step 1-Negotiating

Step 2-Insist with persistence

Step 3-Take action

Step 4-Partial strike

Parents often become discouraged and angry and want to start with the partial strike to shape up their teen you should resist this. Your goal is to work toward cooperation – not coercion.

Letting Go statement:

You are going to have to be the one that takes care of yourself.  I can’t do that for you. I wish I could convince you how dangerous drinking can be for you, but I can’t force you to stay away from alcohol.

Your feelings and thoughts:

I feel scared knowing you attend parties where alcohol is served, and I worry about your safety on the road.

Offer help:

I am willing to pick you up or pay for a cab if you’re in a position where there are no safe rides.

Address parent’s part:

These are the house rules, I expect you to walk in from parties sober. I expect you to be driving home with someone who is sober.

Action Step: Identify the parent’s part of the problem. Create a paragraph that you can use to turn responsibility over to your teen and address the parent’s part using some of the helpful skills and a statement of action.

Guidelines:

Letting Go statement:

I’m exhausted playing detective trying to convince you to stop smoking pot.

Address parent’s part:

I’m taking you in right now to talk to a counselor who can help us determine what level of treatment is necessary.

Your feelings and thoughts:

I’m doing this because I love you

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