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Kids in their teens need clear rules of the game, parenting experts agree. What they don’t need (anymore), however, is education. By observing the rules and laws that apply in adult life, parents and teenagers can get along without any educational measures at all.
At Eye Level: Reacting Correctly When Rules Are Broken
Pre-agreed rules and boundaries provide stability and orientation. For this reason, parents should not tolerate possible rule violations with impunity, even during adolescence. Otherwise, the boundaries lose their validity and the kids see themselves confirmed in their behavior.
Insist on agreed rules and set logical consequences if they are not followed. Please do not get into hour-long discussions with your kids. It is neither possible nor necessary to please the kids in such situations.
When arguing, always remember that rebellion is normal and healthy during adolescence. According to psychologists, conflict is an essential part of resolving the problem. Giving in may shut kids up briefly, but it doesn’t get them anywhere.
Despite the consistent appearance, the willingness to talk should be maintained. The kids must continue to feel a sense of support. They should still turn to you with their problems.
Wolfgang Bergmann recommends to withdraw a little as a parent in a conflict that cannot be solved and also to show your own limits. Don’t get infected by your kids’ bad moods and don’t give in to manipulation attempts. That way, you can look at things a little more calmly.
In fact, parents who represent their own well-being in a somewhat selfish way enjoy more respect from their kids. They register the unwavering calm within you and understand that you will not be drawn into conflict.
Outside of high-conflict situations, the more open you can be about yourself, the more you will be appreciated as a parent. A story from your own teenage years lets your children understand that you know their feelings and struggles and have gone through them yourself. The more likely they are to feel taken seriously by you and to confide in you.
By going back to your own youth, you’ll also be able to empathize a little better with your kids and all their problems.
Dealing With Impertinence
Some kids find their parents embarrassing and treat them accordingly. Cheeky remarks and brash behavior are then not long in coming.
In an interview with Brigitte, parenting expert Dawirs says that parental involvement in puberty is not really intended. Today, however, things are different: We stand in the way of the young people, so to speak, and want to continue to educate them. In fact, Dawirs says, there can be no talk of parenting after the age of 12. Instead, we should strictly lay down house rules and clarify how adults and young people are to treat each other. According to the credo: You are almost adults. However, you still have to abide by certain rules in this house.
Of course, this also includes treating each other with the necessary respect. So the right way to deal with brash teenagers has little to do with education. Rather, as almost adults, teenagers need to understand how to treat other people.
Unlike a three-year-old toddler, the teenager no longer wants to play war. In fact, he just wants to feel good and find his personal identity. If he doesn’t abide by the house rules when testing his limits, you simply have to remind him. For example, like this:
“You’re not cleaning your room from now on? Okay. But then I won’t do your laundry either.”
As a reminder, treat your teenage child like a young adult. Always do so in the way they would like to be treated: With respect and without deprivation of liberty.
Why Can’t I…
Teenagers like to negotiate. They sometimes overdo it, so that as a parent you can get hopelessly caught up in it.
Again, invoke the rules. Your child wants to stay out until 2:00 a.m. with his friends? Explain the legal situation in Germany. Don’t dwell on trivial questions, but get to the bottom of the matter: “Why do you have to stay out until 2:00 a.m. if you don’t drink alcohol or take drugs anyway? You’ll be dog-tired by 24:00 at the latest anyway.”
How kids handle alcohol depends primarily on their parents. No prohibition in the world will be able to stop your teenager from drinking alcohol if they want to. Remember back to your own youth, you may see: There are always ways and means.
By your example, however, they can take their cue and assess what’s okay and what could harm them. However, there is always a residual risk that children will overdo it with alcohol consumption despite their exemplary parents.
To minimize this risk, you should strive for a good, open relationship with the child early on. Parental education can ensure that children strive for a sense of achievement and do not harm themselves. In other words, if you show him that you care about his well-being, he will develop a sense of his own.
What About Drugs?
Adolescents should not use drugs – quite pragmatically – for developmental reasons. The child’s brain cannot cope with them, and growth could be inhibited. The result: severe mental illness or developmental disorders.
Kids need to know about these facts. They also need to understand that the supposedly fun rollercoaster ride of drug use is not real. It can never replace the real experience – for example, a real roller coaster ride. Real experiences, however, are what young people desperately need for their development.