- Provide guidance to find a solution to their problem.
- Neutralise all arguing.
In last weeks post on Responsibility we looked at sharing control with our teens, giving choices and letting teens experience the consequences of their decisions. So, when a teen faces a consequence from their decisions that doesn't quite work out for them, what can we do?
There are three options. We could swoop in and rescue them from the problem. We could yell at them and ground them. Or we could help them find a solution by giving them a couple of options that they can choose from. Of course, Foster Cline and Jim Fay favour the latter option!
If we are encouraging teens to think for themselves and make their own decisions, then whose problem is it? When you feel tempted to solve a teens problem, pause and care with understanding (which I hope is empathy!). I often say to my teen, "Well, that didn't work out so good." Or "I bet that didn't make you feel very happy".
The guidance comes in the form of questions and options. "Have you thought of this? Or this? Or this?" Always ask yourself, who's doing the thinking here? Who's making the decision? I have found that if my teen 'thought' of it himself, I've got a lot more chance of it actually getting done!
One of the most powerful things I ever read was Stephen Covey breaking the word 'Responsible' up and forming 'Response-able'. The ability to choose your response. It is so easy to get caught up in the moment, to be reactive and often afterwards we think "If only I hadn't said that" or "If only I hadn't acted that way"! Also note that it is the ability to choose YOUR response. Not someone elses response. Yours.
My teen doesn't like it when I say, "I love you too much to argue with you". But I think it's a great statement! It says "I love you" in the heat of an arguement and there's no come back! They could say "No you don't!" or "You love so and so more than me" but you just keep on happily saying that. They got nothin'!
Teens get mad when we hold then responsible for their actions. Angry people are not reasonable people! It is best not to start asking them questions that require them to think for themselves at this point. Let your teen know that you will be talking with them about the issue later.
How do you encourage your teen to be responsible? What are you finding works for you? I'd love to hear your stories on raising your teenager.
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