Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Building Blocks for the Teen Years

The first 10-12 years of life are the building blocks for the teen years. If you want to have a more calm and co-operative teen it starts with building a relationship with your younger child. The three things a parent can do in the younger years is to build a strong sense of parental authority, build a good foundation of communication, and create an authentic way of living.

Parental Authority

I have seen over the years a young frustrated child hit a parent and the parent just laugh and ignore the behavior. I then think to myself what is going to happen when the child reaches the age of 12 or 13 and hits out of frustration and anger? It is too late then to enforce an authority which should have existed from the beginning. Parental authority is a boundary set for children's safety and contentment. I will tell you a secret children crave boundaries. In the beginning they will test them, not because they do not like them, but because they want to know how hard and fast the line is. Once they know the line is fixed they relax into it. There are those children who are stronger willed and will push harder at the boundary. However, these children will also relax as long as the line stays fixed.

The issue comes into play when parental authority is not set at a fixed boundary. The child then never relaxes. They have no surety of where the boundaries are and they become scared and stressed. Because they sense no one is in control and the world seems a dangerous place. Therefore, parental authority is paramount to parent child interactions. Here are my suggestions:

  1. Create a set of five rules. State them positively. (Example: Be safe, Be kind, Be neat)
  2. Create a set of consequences. Follow through every time a rule is broken.
  3. Talk through broken rules and consequences when the rule is broken. Help children to understand the decision they made and help them figure out how to make a better decision next time.
  4. Apply the consequences a necessary and follow through to the end.
  5. Re-establish a loving connection after the consequence has been met. Children need to know it was the behavior you did not approve of, but that you love them excessively.
These tools will help you to establish parental authority while also giving children the control of their own behavior. If they follow the rules there will be no consequences. If they break the rule then they are choosing to pay the consequence.

Good Communication

Most people forget children are people. People need us to tune in when they are trying to talk to us. Children seek their parents undivided attention on a regular basis . It is sad to say many children do not ever really get it.One of the saddest things I ever saw was a Mom and her daughter sitting in a restaurant and both of them were on their perspective devices. The Mom was missing a prime time to connect with her daughter face to face. Communication is based on four things three of which are often overlooked when we are interacting with our children. The four are:

  • Facial Expression
  • Body Language
  • Words Spoken
  • Listening
Adults often hear the words children say, but seldom pay attention to the other three. Therefore, miss 95% of what their children have to say! Building relationships take each person giving the other their undivided time and attention. I recommend parents give each child at minimum 15 minutes of face to face undivided attention each day. It could be while you prepare dinner alone in the kitchen, while you play hoops in the backyard, at bedtime. It does not matter when, it just matters that the two of you are alone and talking. No other people, no electronic devices, just the two of you connecting on a personal and interactive level. One other thing on communication: when your child calls your name; take the two minutes they need to look them in the eye and pay attention to all four levels of communication.

Live Authentically

Did you know that 85% of what children learn in childhood is learned through observation? Children are keen observers and spend a lot of time deciphering what they see and hear.In early childhood this is what play is all about. However, this is also how kids begin to see what it really means to be an adult. It is by watching what the adults in their lives do.Because of this most children 97%, live the lives they see their parents live. This means the only way your children get to live a better life is for you to live one first.

Authenticity is the way to a better life. Living authentically means living so that your beliefs, thoughts, words and actions are all aligned in how you live your life. I am not going to expand on this here you can read this blog post to learn more about authenticity. Authentic Parenting

The foundation you set as you parent your children from birth to puberty lies the foundation you will have during the teen years. Take the time to build carefully. This will enable you and your child to build a strong, capable, and authentic adult during the journey into the teen years.

Believe in Parenting

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