Summer vacation, and your kids are out of school. I'm going to use a messy room as a metaphor for a messy anything else. If you need help cleaning up a mess, getting your teen to clean up a mess, or preventing messy communication, then read on! You politely ask them to clean their room. They say, 'OK,' but nothing happens. You ask again, same answer, same result.
The mess continues to grow. You use every trick in the book .Nagging. Whining. Threatening. Cajoling.
Pleading. You say, "How many times do I have to ask you to do this!" And discover that the answer is at least one more. They must know how you feel. Why doesn't that motivate them to take action? It's called adolescence, that moment in a child's life when their hormones hit their brain, and they go slowly (and thankfully, temporarily) insane! At least that's how it looks to a parent.
Lucky for you that you have a number of choices for dealing effectively with this aggravating, amusing and unsettling stage in your child's life! Back to the messy room, and the potential power struggle about to ensue. Your child insists, "This is my room. I should be allowed to take care of it any way I want." " You respond with a mature "Oh yeah? Well, this is MY house. If you want to live in MY house, you must live by MY rules. One of my rules is CLEAN YOUR ROOM!" Your child is now faced with two choices, surrender to your will and feel defeated, or fight for this little bit of territory in a big and complex world.
Surrender, fight. These are stress responses. The best case scenario with these choices is that your child will learn how to turn messy situations into stressful experiences! The Cost of Surrender Defeated children often become dependant and fearful adults, a fate you would never wish on someone you love. But a defeated adolescent may not stay defeated forever. Fueled by hormones, and egged on by peers, they may flip into attack mode.
Then, even if you win the battle(a clean room) you start and lose a war ( relationship becomes a complete mess.) The Cost of Fighting Or they may defend their territory against your invasion, with troublesome questions, challenges and demands. "What is it with you and my room?" What gives you the right to decide?!" Now keeping the problem becomes more valuable as leverage for growing a rebellion. But you have other choices that can help your child learn better choices too. See this for what it is As children grow older, they carve out more space for themselves. It's not rebellion without a clue.
It's rebellion with a cause: discovering who they are when they are not under your influence. But well-adjusted children don't grow up to live apart from society, but rather to play their part in society. This is an important moment in your child's development, so use it to help them learn about interdependence. Beware the Polarity Response Perhaps you've heard it said that if you want to get something done, either do it yourself, hire someone to do it, or forbid your kids to do it? When you forbid an adolescent to do what they want, you increase their desire to do it. Share the concerns: Explore their reluctance in dialog.
What's going on? What's the problem? Share the power: A big part of self-reliance is accepting the consequences of one's actions. You want to lay out the consequences of action and inaction, and then let them make the choice. You want your teen to make a link between what they do and what happens as a result, instead of making you the issue. Say clearly what the consequences are, and follow through immediately. This only works in advance, not after the fact. Associate rights and privileges with responsibilities, whether it's food, play, homework or chores.
Punishment teaches children to feel bad, but not to change their behavior. Discipline establishes consequences for positive and negative behaviors, and then delivers those consequences reliably. Cause-effect is nature's way of providing consequences. If you touch a hot stove, you get burned. If you step off the top of a tall building, you drop.We get feedback from these natural consequences as we experiment in life, but it can be harsh and painful.
To protect your child from the natural consequences of bad choices, establish consequences that hurt less than falling, but are as dependable as gravity. Sometimes, you have to say NO. But it is in your interest to be aware of the nature of adolescence, and to combine clear messages about consequences with unfailing love, constant curiosity, and open communication.
Communication Skills Expert Dr. Rick Kirschner is a coach, speaker and author of the 'Insider's Guide To The Art of Persuasion,' coauthor of the international bestseller, 'Dealing With People You Can't Stand.' His blog is at http://drkblog.com . Get details about a free teleseminar preview of his Communication Tune Up Teleseminar Series, at http://CommunicationTuneUp.com