Thursday, March 18, 2010

Responding to Teens Effectively


As a follow up to "Proper Responses," I offer some great insights from Mark Gregston, teen counselor. He shares -- when a teen breaks the rules, he or she need a responsible adult to respond, not react. To respond is to offer calmness, honesty, love, grace and support while seeking to correct the misbehavior. However, to react is to become emotional, angry, hurt, quick to judge, and often harsh. Knee-jerk reactions are almost always counterproductive. It is not any different if you’re dealing with pre-teens. Reacting to your teen will probably never give you the change you intended or wanted. Responding properly can be difficult and takes lots of practice. Counting to ten is good, but then what?

Parents of teens must learn to stop their mouths, think about needs to be done, and only then should they speak or act. So, “Stop, Think, Act” is the plan. You cannot ignore or overlook inappropriate behavior. You must respond based on what you know is true – your faith, your own beliefs, and what you know is best for your child. You might be dealing with just an ice cube, or you might have just touched on the tip of the iceberg of what’s going on in your teen’s life -- don’t burn bridges with harsh reactions. Stand your ground concerning the boundaries, and follow through on consequences, but strive to get through it all with your relationship intact. It is the same with kiddos…you have to win the battle of the wills -- it is critical. Then your teen or child will learn to respect the healthy boundaries you’ve put into place in his or her life, and in the future will continue to come to you whenever he or she is struggling.


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