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Parenting Your Teenager: 4 Traps to Avoid

4 traps to avoid

Trap 1 - Parents need to realize the trap that is being set when your kids ask,

"Well, why can't I (fill in the blank)?"

Many well-intentioned parents then proceed to give a well-reasoned response and then wonder why the kids blow up and don't accept it.

Here's a response I believe a parent will never get:

"Thank you for that explanation Mom and Dad. I've never thought of it that way before. And now that you've explained it that way, I can't believe I wanted to do that. I apologize for asking. Thanks for setting me straight."

If your child ever says this, call me immediately because something is terribly wrong.

Yet, as parents, we act as if that is the response we expect. Most of the time, no explanation will suffice.

So sometimes "because we said so" is the most effective and appropriate response.

Trap 2) When kids yell,

"You never listen to me" and "You just don't understand,"

and you insist, "Yes we do," you're talking about two different things.

You're not on the same page when it comes to your definitions of listening and understanding.

Many times, when teenagers say you just don't understand or listen, what they are really saying is you are not agreeing with me, and I'm mad and I'm going to try to get my way!

The solution is for parents to make it clear that though the teen will almost always get a voice in discussions, she won't always get a vote.

Taking this position exposes the game the kids are playing and helps to put the parents in charge.

Trap 3) Hearing your kids scream,

"I hate you!"

can be painful to many parents. It doesn't help that the words are not spoken softly.

Many times when kids yell "I hate you," they are not talking to you but to themselves.

Adolescence is a tremendously difficult time for some kids, filled at times with low self-esteem, self-contempt and self-loathing. Unfortunately, their anger and frustration is misdirected and comes out at their parents.

It's important to point out that this doesn't make it acceptable. It's not.

It just exposes what is really happening.

Trap 4) There is a common trap into which many parents fall. It's the trap of trying to make your teenagers see or do something a certain way, usually the way you think it should be done. The more you try to persuade them to do it your way, the more they are committed to doing it their way.

Just as in most traps, the more you aimlessly struggle, the more trapped you become and the harder it is to get out.

Focus on the need for parents to stop deciding what they are going to make their kids do and start deciding what they're going to do. This puts parents back in charge by giving them control over something they can control: themselves.

Sometimes this involves deciding what is acceptable and unacceptable and then sticking with it.

It's OK for your teenager not to like it.

That's part of being a teenager.

Leading parenting expert Jeff Herring is a teen and family therapist, parenting coach, speaker and syndicated parenting and relationship columnist. Jeff invites you to visit ParentingYourTeenager.com for 100's of tips and tools for parenting through the teenage years. You can also subscribe to his f'ree weekly internet newsletter "ParentingYourTeenager."

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