Family Matters: Teach your teenager to respect you
Dear Diana, My 13-year-old daughter is in the thick of “teenage-hood” and gives me issues with conversations that are filled with a nasty tone. She wants to be in charge of every situation, whether it be changing the radio station in the car, or telling me we need to go somewhere. I am constantly reminding her that she is not the boss. She has extreme difficulty accepting the answer “no,” and, as a result, she will ask the same thing over and over in order to get her way, which drives me crazy. I don’t give in at all, but she still asks repeatedly anyway, every time. She is slow to perform directives, such as clear your plate, put away your laundry, etc. I do take away her phone and computer, but I’m looking for other effective ways to retrain her. Thanks, Looking for options
Dear Looking for options, It’s wonderful that you are searching for positive alternatives in order to teach your daughter. Adolescence is a time of change; your daughter is no longer a child, and yet she is clearly not an adult. Logical thinking and memory are not fully developed in a teen brain, which often results in poor judgment, forgetfulness and argumentative behavior. She is trying to find her way, and needs your guidance. Provide your expectations with love, clear communication and lots of patience, to keep her safe — and on the right path.
Enhance your communication. Don’t tell her she’s not the boss, as that is an argumentative statement. Show her you are the boss by remaining calm, and using a low, slow voice to let her know what you will be doing. If she says, “We have to go to the mall this afternoon because I need a new pair of jeans,” tell her that you will check her jeans to see if they still fit, and, if not, you will check your calendar to see when you can take her. Don’t be defensive of her demands, but don’t accept them either.
Teach outside of the event. Whenever anything continues to cause a problem, talk to her about it at another time. 1. Give her the radio rules before you get into the car, and offer options and choice. Suggest she bring a CD that you both enjoy, or tell her she may listen to her station, unless a song comes on that you don’t want to hear while you are driving. 2. At a relaxed time, explain the new rules of respect. This is not a lecture, it’s a new expectation. Use examples of when she was rude, including her exact words or gestures (eye rolling, etc.). Ask her what would be helpful as a reminder when (she forgets and) behaves with disrespect. You might touch her shoulder, or say, “That’s rude. Are you able to apologize and rephrase?” If she won’t apologize, explain a “blackout” which is a time-out for teenagers. During this time, she would lose all electronics, conversation, privileges, etc., until she comes to you with a genuine apology. Offer choices but decide together how you will help her learn and remember.
Say less and do more. Consistently hand her laundry basket to her and tell her that when her laundry is put away, then she may … use the computer. Keep it simple and be very clear. No need to yell or negotiate. The less said the better, as fewer words are often more powerful. Get up and go to her, touch her shoulder briefly, with light pressure, and tell her it’s time to … clear her dishes.
Recognize the three A’s. Acts of kindness, attempts and achievements. Offer continuous verbal recognition, “I noticed you … ” a quick kiss on her forehead, a pat on her back, so she knows you recognize all her efforts and that you love her.
Diana Boggia, M.Ed., is a parenting educator. Find additional parenting resources at her website, www.yourperfectchild.com.