Parenting Your Teenager: 6 Things to Stop Doing Right Away

1. STOP focusing on what you are going to make your teen-ager do

It doesn't work. When our kids are infants, we are in total charge. Between ages 3 to 13, kids still really like us, and often will go along with what we want.

However, from 13 on they realize they are as big as we are, and they can really do a lot of what they want. So, stop focusing on what you are going to make them do and start focusing on what you are going to do. How you are going to respond to what they do; what you will give and what you will withhold; how you are going to model good choices for them. Focus on what you are going to do, because it's the only thing you can really control.

2. STOP lecturing

You didn't listen when your parents did it, so what makes you think your kids are going to listen to you?

The same information can be conveyed over time in short bursts. Keep it short and sweet. One of the best places to do the short and sweet stuff is while riding in the car. You have a captive audience, and you are both looking ahead and not staring at each other.

3. STOP using adultisms

We commit an adultism when we forget what it's like to be a teen -- to think and reason and experience the world as a teen -- and expect a teen-ager, who has never been an adult, to think, act, reason and experience the world like an adult.

4. STOP grounding or restricting them for long periods of time

By long I mean, except for the most enormous of infractions, any longer than two weeks. For adults, two weeks is like a snap of the fingers -- gone. For most teens, two weeks seems like forever, which causes diminishing positive results the longer the grounding. Consequences need to be strong enough to get their attention, swift enough after the infraction to have an effect, and short-term so they can have another chance to do better soon.

5. STOP trying to reason with them about the rules

Here is one event I can guarantee will never happen in your household: You explain a rule or why you said no to your teen-ager, and they respond with, "Well, thank you, Mom and Dad, I never thought of it that way, and now that you have explained it that way to me, I no longer want to go to the movies with David, I feel bad for asking, and I think I'll just go to bed early and think about the wisdom you just shared with me."

There are still times when "because I said so" is the best thing you can say.

6. STOP making every issue a battle for control

If every issue is a battle for control, your teen will make every issue a battle for independence. Remember, trying to control a teen-ager is like trying to put pants on a gorilla -it's just going to frustrate you and make the gorilla very mad.

Visit for tips and tools for thriving during the teen years. You can also subscribe to our f*r*e*e 5 day e-program on The Top 5 Things to Never Say to Your Teenager, from parenting coach and expert Jeff Herring.

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