By Peggy Butler
The disquieting behavior of teenagers in the 21st century, is being hailed by experts as a disturbing trend among troubled youth. Such an interpretation may be factual, but mental heath advocates maintain there are guidelines parents can utilize before problems reach the critical stage.
They contend the problems of youngsters who defy parental authority is rooted in changes in the outside world as well as relationships in the home. For example, in recent years, we have witnessed a breakdown in discipline and the disruption of family authority. Family structures are not as strong as they once were, nor are roles as well defined. Often there is conflict between parents. Moreover, peer involvement has surpassed family involvement.
In a society where law and order tend to spiral out of control, children are apt to see parents engage in abusive or corrupt behavior. Similarly, the increase in violence and moral degradation encourages children to ask parents, Who are you to tell us what to do? Look at how you're living and have you have messed up the world? As children become older, they generally separate from the family, however, they still need guidance. It is at this stage, that parents are encouraged to exercise their flexibility and supervision skills. How parents enforce those rules will influence their success in maintaining them.. Below are 10 suggestions, that if followed fastidiously, will produce incredible results.
1. Parental Accountability. Instead of raising their own children, parents are relying on teachers and other authority figures to fill the role of mom and dad. To counteract trouble, it is imperative that parents become familiar with their childrens universe: habits, friends, social network and extra curricular activities.
2. Setting the Rules. Parents should set their own standards, however, it is a good idea to check with other parents, and perhaps the school about prevailing views on curfews, alcohol and other pertinent issues. You cant always trust children to accurately report about regulations in other families. Thus, it is important to remember that each family is different, so rules will vary.
3. Parents should not differentiate on the rules. Both parents should agree on a course of action and support each other. Kids will use every opportunity to take advantage of differences between parents. For example: Roger, a 15-year-old with an overactive libido is told by his macho dad that its normal for teenage boys to have sex with multiple partners, but his mom espouses abstinence. As a result of this discrepancy, Justin is totally confused. The solution: Parents should determine how to handle troubling aspects of their childrens lives (sex, drugs, alcohol, rebellion) and agree on a specific strategy. Reluctance and hesitance is not acceptable. According to experts, if a child senses friction, he/she is apt to pit one parent against the other creating a major headache.
4. Discuss the rules with your children. Explain your position calmly, and be prepared to back up your ideas. Remember, things have changed a great deal since you were your childrens age. Listen carefully to your children. Particularly the oldest, who usually has the toughest time because he or she is a trailblazer for those who follow.
5. Rules must be geared to the ability of the child to handle responsibility. Development in adolescence is uneven not only physically, but also emotionally. One 16-year-old may be able to manage a flexible curfew, but another may not be mature enough. If rules are not followed, parents must first examine their own roles, expectations and motivations. Are they contributing to the problem? Are the demands arbitrary and unreachable? Example: Vulgar language. What kind of language do the parents use? If every word out of their mouth is filthy or offensive, there's a strong probability the children will develop the same habit. Violent Behavior. Children aren't born with a penchant for violence. Instead, it is learned from parents and other adults. If you exhibit violent behavior in front of your children, anticipate problems in the future.
6. Let children know who's in charge. Parents who are afraid of their children and let them run amuck are bound to have problems. Unlike prior generations, a barrage of laws protect todays youth, which makes it difficult for parents to dispense discipline. Despite the legal process, parents should make it clear that they are in charge, and children as long as they are under their roof are obliged to obey rules.
7. Avoid hostile confrontations. Create an atmosphere where troubling situations are expressed with positive reinforcement. If parents discover their daughter is using drugs they should refrain from losing control. Instead, they should remain calm and point out the dangers of substance abuse. After explaining your position, seek professional help. If the child refuses to undergo treatment, as a parent you are required to see that she is admitted to a chemical dependency program within 36 hours.
8. Never tag a child with the worthless label. According to experts, children are very impressionable. If a youngster is repeatedly told he is no good, he will act in accordance with that image. Thus, he begins to lives up to that reputation and is more likely to get into trouble. Defiant behavior is often used to get attention or to test limits.
9. Always deal with your child with understanding. Children react to fairness. However, it is OK to be angry if your anger is motivated by your concern for their safety. It is your job to protect them; however parents should not protect their children if they commit a serious crime. If a child is found guilty of stealing or destroying public property, he or she should be given the punishment befitting the crime.
10. Treat each child equally. Avoid paying too much attention to one child, while purposely ignoring the other. Remember that each child is born with unique abilities, unlike anyone else. Learn to appreciate each childs talent and individuality. If parents follow these suggestions, perhaps unruly children will become a thing of the past, rather than a trend of the future.
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