Teens are notorious for being unpredictable. As a parent, you might be shocked when your teen is disrespectful, lazy, irresponsible or disobedient for the first time. Instead of allowing the behavior, act now to redirect negative behavior into something more positive. It's a parenting tactic that works on toddlers as well as teens, while teaching an important lesson on what is and isn't acceptable in your home.
When things between you and your teen are getting heated or you think your teen needs some quiet time, give her the option to stop the conversation and cool off, suggests Michael C. Popkin, Ph.D., in an brochure for Active Parenting Publishers. Sometimes, it's difficult to have a conversation when you're both upset. Instead, redirect that behavior and attitude by both taking a break, reforming the conversation and coming back to it when you're both calm and ready to address the issue. That way, your teen learns that you won't argue -- instead, you'll discuss.
Refuse to Respond
A bad attitude, disrespectful language and even whining are all par for the course when you have a teen in the house. Your teen needs to learn that you simply won't respond if he talks to you with a disrespectful tone. Instead, ask him to think about his words and change his tone if he wants to ask you a question or talk to you about something. It's the old adage of "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all" and can help redirect the behavior into something more positive.
Focus on the Positive
When your teen acts up, choose to ignore bad behavior in favor of giving kudos for good behavior instead. Teens often act out in the name of garnering attention -- after all, for some teens, it's better to nab negative attention than no attention at all. Therefore, if you choose to ignore the negative and focus on the positive, giving praise and quality time for things like speaking respectfully, being nice to siblings and doing well in school, your teen should respond to the redirection by giving you more of the behavior you want.
Giving into your teen's negative behavior is a mistake, since it simply reinforces the fact that your teen can use that behavior to get what he wants. As a parent, it's your job to set boundaries and then stay consistent in your rules. Even if your teen calls names, uses disrespectful language or constantly breaks rules, the path of least resistance isn't the best course of action. Redirect that behavior by referring to the rules often and staying firm.
Problem Solve Together
Finally, you can use team problem solving as a way to redirect negative behavior, suggests Scripps Health San Diego. For instance, if your teen complains that she gets bad grades because her teachers seem to hate her, ask what she can do to fix it. If she's constantly breaking curfew, talk about what would make her adhere to your house rules. As you problem solve together, you show your teen that you value her opinion as you help redirect something negative into a positive solution.
- Active Parenting Publishers: Building Courage, Redirecting Misbehavior
- Scripps Health: Redirecting Your Children's Behavior
- Defiant Teens: A Clinician's Manual for Assessment and Family Intervention; Russell A. Barkley, et al.
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