My previous article (‘Are teens really disobedient’, CN October 27) explained what is taking place in the teenaged brain as well as what is happening with them emotionally and socially that at times impedes them from acting ‘responsibly’.
They tune out to our voice, seem to ignore us and forget very quickly what chores, duties or responsibilities must be carried out.
Parental domestic requests rank at the lowest level of importance. Of highest importance as previously mentioned is peer acceptance or sport or extra-curricular demands.
So, how do we get our parental voice up on their rank of importance?
We will now explore a few strategies, but first let’s understand the importance of discipline with empathy.
Parental anger is a threat to children. Angry outbursts are destructive to any relationship.
Expressing empathy replaces angry threats and lectures, irrational banning, licks and resentment and leads to a harmonious relationship, one of trust. Teens will feel safe to confide in us when we are quick to listen empathetically, set limits lovingly and firmly and correct them with respect.
To a forgetful teen who has forgotten to do their chore of washing dishes: empathy here can sound like this: in a respectful calm voice instead of a harsh, threatening, fighting voice:
“Oh dear, I see you forgot to wash the dishes. Hmmm, well sadly for you, this means you will be having to do your brother’s turn tomorrow night, as well as tonight’s own, of course.”
Or “Hmm I see you forgot to _______, like I asked you to. Well, I went ahead and did it since I needed it done earlier, but now you will need to do three extra chores for me to make up for that forgetfulness”.
Or “It drained my energy having to do your chore that you forgot to do. What are you going to do for me to restore my energy? I’ll give you suggestions if you can’t think of any.”
Teenagers and even adults are far less likely to get very upset with us, when we have calm, even-toned, rational disciplinary conversations with them, verbalising the problem, its effects on the family or parent or on the child him/herself. We are less likely to be viewed as the bad guy when we stay calm. Their behaviour becomes the bad guy and they learn more quickly from their mistakes.
When we threaten, rant, rave, punish and ban them then we are the bad guy. They resent us and they don’t take time to process and feel what they did, so they do not learn from their poor decisions.
A second strategy is setting simple limits with ‘when, then’ statements.
For example, “When you finish tidying your room, then you may play video games” or “Feel free to use the iPad, phone, video games after the chores are done.”
Thirdly offering them a choice of chores can aid in it getting done.
“Would you rather wash the car today or Saturday?”
“Would you rather wash the car or sweep the yard?”
“Would you rather tidy the room now or in two hours’ time?”
This meets their need for control and allows them to plan.
There are other dimensions to empathy. We will explore those next time.
The strategies described in this article are taken from the ‘Becoming a Love and Logic’ parent programme.
Follow Sophies_parenting_support on Instagram and FB. Read Sophie’s blogs on www.parentingcoachconsultant.com