I remember when my kids were toddlers and wouldn’t let up about something they wanted. Fast forward 10 plus years, and it seemed as if nothing much had changed. They still wheedled and whined. You know what I’m talking about. As teens, your kids are bigger, louder, have more words, and want more than anything to be accepted by their peers. The stakes are higher and you have more reasons to say no. Now you need nerves of steel. And a plan.
Kids have a script. You know it, you probably had the same script when you were a teen. “Everybody else is going…. All my friends have a… You never let me…” What’s amazing is that they all know this script! Are we all born knowing it, just waiting for the right time to spring it on our parents?
Of course there are no absolutes, and it’s rare that everyone but your child is having or going or doing. All this is done to make you doubt your decision and wear you down. And it works!
You can either demand proof (which is time-consuming, draining, and lands you in a power struggle) or develop your own script. What will you do to weather the storm of a ‘determined to get what I want’ teen?
You can start by acknowledging his disappointment.
You’ve made your decision. Stand your ground, quietly and firmly.
Accept the fact that he’s going to have a tantrum and will hate you forever, or at least until the next time he needs a hug or something else from you.
Make a cheat sheet! Write down your ‘script’. Keep it with you and read it out loud a few times a day. You want the words to be familiar and comfortable, ready to use when you need them.
At a recent workshop, a mom wanted to know how to have a conversation about setting limits, without getting into an argument. She wanted to avoid the power struggle and unpleasantness. Most kids won’t give up without a fight, or at least a little skirmish. The unpleasantness is almost a given (unless your teen is really looking for you give him a way out of something). Just remember: you don‘t have to engage.
Preparation is the key to consistency, follow-through and less drama. Avoid making it up as you go. Have the words ready to go so you can stay the course and outlast your teen.
Fern Weis is a certified life coach who learned that caring and good intentions are not enough in parenting. In fact, they are often the problem! Fern supports parents of teens and young adults who are going through difficult situations, including addiction recovery. She helps parents release guilt, end enabling and confidently prepare their children to thrive through life's challenges. Her articles are featured in Thrive Global, Medium, Motherly, The Teen Mentor, and Bergen County Moms.
Learn more about coaching and classes at www.fernweis.com. And then download your free guide, "Five Powerful Steps to Get Your Teen to Talk." For information on Family Recovery programs, visit www.familyrecoverypartners.com.