This is a Love and Logic strategy I incorporate in counseling for teenagers and helping parents use discipline for teenagers. If you’re not familiar with Love and Logic, do a google search and you’ll find tons of books and videos available. Teenagers have a tendency to screw up and do things they shouldn’t or fail to do things they should be doing. One thing parents tend to do to fix this is give the teenager a 20 minute lecture on how the world works and how they are going to ruin their lives if they keep going down this path.
Unfortunately, these lectures don’t usually work. The good news is that your kids already know almost exactly what you’re going to say. This means you’ve already gotten through to them; your voice is already in their head.
A Better Way to Approach Discipline for Teenagers
So how do you get teens to do the right thing if lecturing doesn’t work. The Love and Logic approach is to stop talking and let natural or logical consequences do the teaching. For example, lecturing them about homework may just cause them to shut down (usually combined with eye rolling and heavy sighing). So try this instead. Let them know their ability to earn privileges depends on whether they earn those privileges by working to earn them. This is different from telling them they don’t get something because they did something wrong. So they might earn the use of their iPhone on a daily basis by making sure they have no missing assignments.
Love and Logic Strategies
Love and Logic suggests we have to let our kids own their own problems and learn from experiencing reasonable consequences. And if they create a problem that affects us, we get to solve the problem in a way that works well for us, but not necessarily well for them. So for example, if you have to worry about their missing assignments and lose sleep due to worrying about whether they will graduate, that’s a problem you get to solve. When your teen asks you to drive them somewhere, you might respond with, “I’d really love to drive you, but I’m so exhausted from worrying about your grades I just don’t have the energy to drive you anywhere right now. But as soon as I’m not so tired from all this worry I’m sure I”ll have the energy to start driving you around again”.
Providing discipline for teenagers this way helps them develop better decision making skills.
So, try to stop nagging and lecturing and take the Love and Logic approach. Don’t try to solve all your teen’s problems for them. Let them suffer with their bad decisions as long as the consequences are reasonable. They’ll learn to make better decisions for themselves and gain more confidence and maturity in the process.
Gary Watson is a Solution Focused Therapist in Grand Rapids Michigan. He provides counseling for couples, counseling for teenagers, and adults. He provides counseling for anxiety, depression, stress, college and work stress, and relationship problems. For more information, please visit the website at www.turnaboutcounseling.com.