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Behavior Contracts
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Choosing Your Battles

By: Nancy Sander

I remember rolling the waistband of my skirt up and covering the waistband with a belt, so I could shorten the skirt at school. My Mom wanted the skirt longer; I wanted it shorter. It was very important to fit in. What was your teenage behavior that you now consider just 'quirky,' but was serious to you as a teen? You have to remember something! Take some time to see and understand your teen's side of the seriousness of fitting into the teen culture. Can you imagine how your teen feels right now?

A different approach to this type of teenage behavior may be required to be acceptable to both you and your teen. You are not going to be able to get your teen to zip his jacket or wear earmuffs. If you feel uncomfortable about a fashion, or teenage behavior, talk to your teen.

Remember not to talk at your teen. Ask questions. Listen. Listen. Listen, and hear. Do not make a final decision for action until you have all the information you need.

For this example, find out the dress code at the school your teen attends? While not all schools actively enforce their dress codes, many do. Do you have all the answers and information that you need to make a decision about changing limit and boundary rules? You may not; slow down; not every teenage behavior is an emergency.

Again, ask questions, and listen before you take drastic action that could negatively affect the relationship with your teen. Pick your battles. Don't stumble into them, because you sense a difference between you and your teen.

Ask yourself more questions and get answers before you act. In Part II of -Teenage Behavior,-we will discuss how to avoid serious conflict.

Being the parent of a teenager is very challenging. Watching their teenage behavior can be frustrating and confusing. Many topics are potential conflict starters for instance, curfew, activities, spending money, driving privileges, chores, and manner of dress.

I will use the topic of clothing as an example of a conflict starter. The thought process is similar with any topic of controversy. Let us dive right into this.

How does your teen(s) dress? What exactly are your specific concerns this teenage behavior? Before we go any further, take time to think through your possible responses. What do you want to do? This may seem like a minor topic, but I have known it to cause a Mother's tears and a Father's shouts.

Ask yourself these questions:

- Does your teen want to fit in with peers?

- Does that usually match your tastes or ideas?

- Does your teen keep up with the latest and craziest trends?

- Do you get shocked or worried?

- Are you wondering what you should do? Or, if you should do anything?

- Is this an area in which you want to set up a battle line or start a war?

- How is your relationship with this teen?

- If you change the limits and boundaries will this change the relationship?

- Do you want to take a chance at jeopardizing that relationship?

- Just how uncomfortable are you about this topic?

You are not alone in these types of questions and concerns. Even the professional within programs and institutions that specialize in behavior change for teens regularly discuss these types of questions.

You may feel internal pressure to set new 'rules' every time some new style or teenage behavior change comes into the home. Keep in mind that you have only so much power to make effective changes in teenage behavior, especially anything that seriously effects the teen's status with his/her peers.

Life is full of challenges for busy parents, and parenting is a big one. And a big part of parenting is managing teenage behavior. Are your ideas working? Don't let frustration cause you to lose sight of your goals for your discipline ideas. Create your own goals and parenting plan of action with parenting coaching online parenting classes. Discover how to choose your battles to avoid serious conflict over teenage behavior. Learn how to be the successful parent that I know you are with Parenting 101 Success


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Teen Discipline 101 - Choosing Your Battles