Magic Formula for Getting Along With A Teen

Posted on Posted in Teens

Typical Teen Elk GroveTeenagers can be very challenging and when they have their own plans, it is like trying to move a mountain in order to get their cooperation at home. In my work with teens and families, I have discovered a magic formula that helps lower conflict between parents and teens.

How many times have you said to your teen, “How many times do I have to ask you to do (fill in the blank)?”  Or, “Why do I have to yell to get you to do something?”

When you follow these steps, you won’t have to say that EVER AGAIN!

  1. Give your child clear, direct instructions about what they are to do.  Make sure you put a time limit on it.  It would sound something like this:  “Joe, you are to do the dishes, including wiping the counters and sweeping the floor, by 7pm tonight.”
  2. Give your child the possible consequence or reward they will get if they do or don’t do as requested.  “If the dishes aren’t done by 7pm, you will lose 1/2 hour of electronics (TV, computer, phone, etc.) time tonight.”  Or, “If you finish the dishes by 7pm tonight, you will be able to stay up an extra 1/2 hour this Friday night.”  Offer a reward that is appealing to your child, and will act as a motivator.
  3. LEAVE YOUR CHILD ALONE.  Do not go back to your child every 15 or 30 minutes and remind them of what needs to be done.  Do NOT say, “You know, if you don’t have the dishes done by 7pm, you….” This opens the door for arguments.
  4. At the set time, check on the work and follow through. If it’s done, reward or compliment your child, including expressing gratitude that they followed through and got it done.  If they have not completed it, put the consequence in place.  DO NOT fall for the old, “But Dad, or Mom, I’m almost done, just give me five more minutes.”  In order for this to work, you have to be sure to follow-through every time.  Not following through teaches your child that if they just argue long enough, you will give in.

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