Children can be difficult. Raising children can be a chore all in itself. There is no handbook, there are no rules, and there is really no sure way to raise a child. Many people in your life will give you advice. Parents, grandparents, friends, relatives, co-workers will all have their own opinion on how a child should be disciplined, spoken to, and handled. They will all give you advice based on what worked for them and their child. The truth of the matter is, that no one can truly advise you on what works for your child because your child is unique and has their own way that works for them.
There will be times when you may feel at your wits end, but there are some ideas to take into consideration when you are trying to find what works best for your seemingly unruly and hard-to-discipline teenager. Here are a few items and ideas to keep in my mind as you take the journey of understanding your child and helping them adjust.
Add, Don’t Take Away
One of the most popular forms of punishment and discipline that parents bestow upon their child is taking something away or depriving their child of some kind of joy. Parents will ground children, take away electronics, cancel plans, and remove privileges. Although this can work in certain situations, in most cases, children get angry with their new free time and have time to stew and their negative emotions have nowhere to turn. Some family psychologists have found that instead of taking away joy, add work. Add chores to their already full plate. Give them responsibilities they can’t shirk or fall short on. Wash the dishes, do the laundry, or even have them take over the chores and responsibilities of their siblings. This kind of punishment keeps your child’s hands busy, mind busy, and allows them a physical way to think through what they have done. In the end, they may learn a skill or be more confident in their abilities.
One of the reasons your child may be acting out is that they are having a hard time communicating how they feel and what is on their mind. For so many kids, they are afraid to approach their parents with questions on sexuality, sex, how to be a good person, how to deal with difficult friends, or how to simply get through the day without feeling like they are going to spiral. As adults, we know all of this is just a normal part of life and certain situations will never go away. When you have a child that may seem out of sorts and unable to express how they feel, take the initial step to communicate. When your teen or child knows the door is always open to talk, they will think before they act out and come to you with questions and concerns that may be bothering them. But remember, you are the one who may have to take the first step.
Competition can be healthy for your child and teen. Competition helps your child to become more social and make friends rather than staying around the house and not interacting. Being available in the world allows your child to have a better perception of how the world works and how people work with each other. The group building of sports teams also gives your child confidence that they can do their part for the greater good and they have a place within their community and chosen circle. It also boosts self-confidence to have a skill and to work hard towards a goal. Goal reaching is always going to be prevalent in your child’s journey through life, and the sooner they learn how to enact a plan to get what they want, the sooner they can become successful in life.
Change of Scenery
Sometimes, your child’s environment could be what’s holding them back. Schools or teams or friends may be a bad influence on them, and they are lacking the hardcore structure necessary to stay in line. You may want to try and find a military school for teens that has the disciplinary curriculum necessary to get through to your teen. Although that may seem extreme, it may be an option to bring to your child through open communication when all else has failed. Another suggestion is to move from your current neighborhood to another part of the city. This is actually something that we did in 2018 for our youngest son and it has been a positive change!
Although many see therapy as a sign of weakness, seeing a licensed counselor may be the strongest thing you can ever do. Whether your teen or child wants to sit with someone alone, or it is more beneficial to have the whole family talk together, an outside professional can see things your family may not be seeing. A third party is also non-biased and can shed light on feelings and problems in a way that has them all make sense. This may be a tough route for most people to go through, but if it’s all that’s left to help your child and family come together on some common ground with common understanding it is worth a shot.
Sitting with your child and talking about all the things that have happened is a great way for them to be able to have the space to put things into perspective. Practicing this with your child not only gives your child the ability to see what they have done, but you can join in and reflect on your own actions and how they may have affected your child. By taking this journey together, you will come closer to each other and the doors to communication and accountability will be wide open for everyone.
Getting through to your child is not always going to be easy. You have to remember that they are on their own journey and that journey can be different than the one you thought they would have. While you may be their parent, they are a unique individual with their own thoughts and feelings about, well, everything. Be patient, be open, be receptive, and your child will have the comfort of knowing they are safe while they are figuring things out.
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