Saturday, November 8, 2008

Raising a well-behaved child or teen is easy, if parents are willing to work at it!

1. Parental Accountability. Whether good or bad, parents must share some responsibility for their children’s actions. However, instead of raising their own children, parents are relying on teachers and other authority figures to fill the role of mom and dad. Are the parents of kids who commit crimes so detached they don’t realize their offspring are walking time bombs? To counteract trouble, it is imperative that parents become familiar with their children’s universe: habits, friends, social network and extra curricular activities.
2. Setting the Rules. Parents should set their own standards, however, it is a good idea to check with other parents and perhaps the school, about the prevailing views on curfews, alcohol and other issues pertinent to teens. You can’t always trust children to accurately report about regulations in other families. It is also a good idea to remember that each family is different, so rules will vary.
3. Parents should not differentiate on the rules. Both parents should agree on a course of action and support each other. Kids will use every opportunity to take advantage of differences between parents. For example: Justin, a 15-year-old with an overactive libido is told by his macho dad that it’s normal for a young man to have sex with multiple partners, but his mom espouses abstinence. As a result of this discrepancy, Justin is totally confused.
4. Discuss the rules with your children. Explain your position calmly, and be prepared to back up your ideas. Remember, things have changed a great deal since you were your children’s age. Listen carefully to your children. Particularly the oldest, who usually has the toughest time because he or she is a trailblazer for those who follow.
5. Rules must be geared to the ability of the child to handle responsibility. Development in adolescence is uneven not only physically, but also emotionally. One 16-year-old may be able to manage a flexible curfew, but another may not be mature enough. If rules are not followed, parents must first examine their own roles, expectations and motivations. Are they contributing to the problem? Are the demands arbitrary and unreachable? Example: Vulgar language. What kind of language do the parents use? If every word out of their mouth is filthy or offensive, there’s a strong probability the children will develop the same habit. Racist Behavior. Children aren’t born with prejudices, they are learned from parents and other adults. If you detest minorities, your attitude will reflect that view.
6. Let children know who’s in charge. Parents who are afraid of their children and let them run amuck are bound to have problems. Unlike prior generations, a barrage of laws protect today’s youth, which makes it difficult for parents to dispense discipline. Despite the legal process, parents should make it clear that they are in charge, and children as long as they are under their roof are obliged to obey the rules.
7. Avoid hostile confrontations. Create an atmosphere where troubling situations are expressed with positive reinforcement. If parents discover their daughter is using drugs they should refrain from losing control. Instead, they should remain calm and point out the dangers of substance abuse. After explaining your position, seek professional help. If the child refuses to undergo treatment, as a parent you are required to see that she is admitted to a chemical dependency program within 36 hours.
8. Never tag a child with the worthless label. According to experts, children are very impressionable. If a youngster is repeatedly told he is no good, he will act in accordance with that image. Thus, he begins to live up to that reputation and is more likely to get into trouble. Defiant behavior is often used to get attention or to test limits.
9. Always deal with your child with understanding. Children react to fairness. However, it is OK to be angry if your anger is motivated by your concern for their safety. It is your job to protect them however parents should not protect their children if they commit a serious crime. If a child is found guilty of stealing or destroying public property, he or she should be given the punishment befitting the crime.
10. Treat each child equally. Avoid paying too much attention to one child, while purposely ignoring the other. Remember that each child is born with unique abilities, unlike anyone else. Learn to appreciate each child’s talent and individuality. If parents follow these suggestions, perhaps unruly behavior will become a thing of the past, rather than a trend of the future.

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