So maybe you have the perfect teenager. Maybe he or she does everything you ask them to do with a smile and a sweet attitude. Perhaps they never question why they aren’t allowed to do
Admittedly some children are easier to parent than others at any stage. But when you mix a strong-willed child with their growing bid for independence, it can be natural to have disagreements.
Don’t get me wrong; we have good daughters. But we occasionally have different ideas about what they are and aren’t allowed to decide for themselves in these teen years.
And with every parenting post these days, I feel like I need to offer a disclaimer! I’m just a mom of two teenage girls who’s tried different strategies and found this one helpful in
This idea comes from the book Inside the Teenage Brain by Sheryl Feinstein. She tells parents to write down the top ten sources of conflict or tension with your teenager. In other words, what do you disagree about the most?
Once you have your list, put each of the ten items into one of three groups.
- We need to establish a firm boundary here.
- We can negotiate.
- We can let this go.
Obviously the goal is to not have all ten items go under number 1!
Every family is different, so what you would put under number 1 will be different than what we would put there. And items may even change categories as our children mature.
You establish a firm boundary with those things that are most important to your family. They’re your Biblical convictions, your family values. This becomes a valuable teaching
For example, attending church regularly with the family is a “number 1” item for us. We also have firm boundaries around our girls’ cell phone usage. Does that mean they’ll never have an issue with church attendance or their cell phones? No. But those are examples of areas in which we’re trying to teach them discipline and self-control.
Then there are issues that are negotiable. You and your teenager start with two different viewpoints. You discuss what each side wants or expects, then agree to a solution you can both accept. This is a helpful skill that your teen can carry with them into future relationships!
We might negotiate on things like hairstyles or color; what household chores have to be done, and when; and our younger daughter is currently negotiating for a hedgehog, but she hasn’t convinced us yet!!
Things you choose to let go are those that, in a sense, you just decide aren’t worth the conflict. Yes, you could be on them about every little thing, but that can make for some long, discouraging days.
Things we’ve let go include making our girls have a scheduled bedtime, keeping their rooms neat on a daily basis, and checking behind them to see if their homework is done. Those just aren’t battles I’m willing to fight.
I also noticed that a few of those items I’ve let go actually have natural consequences built in. The shirt you wanted to wear is dirty because you left it in a pile on the floor instead of in the laundry basket? Oh, well. Guess you’ll be wearing something else today. Get a bad grade in Science class because you didn’t turn in an assignment?
Now that our oldest daughter is 18, we’re allowing her to make more and more decisions on her own, though there will always be a few non-negotiables if you’re going to live in our house.
The point is I can find 22 things to nag my girls about every day. But that doesn’t contribute to peace in our home. And every time they see me coming, I don’t want them to wonder what I’m going to get on them about now. I want to have many more positive and encouraging conversations than negative ones.
In the end, you’ll experience a lot more conflict if the boundaries you do set aren’t grounded in an actual relationship with your teenager. I’ve heard it said that rules without relationship
I don’t have fully grown adult kids yet. Maybe some of you
- 4 Bible Verses to Hold on to as We Parent Teenagers
- 10 Simple but Powerful Pieces of Life Advice for Teenagers
- 7 Ways to Help Your Teenage Daughter
Oh, my goodness! I do this with my toddler, too! Well, except for negotiating. She’s not good at that yet. 🙂 I think this is great advice for all children!
Yes, we definitely used these strategies with our toddlers, too…especially the strong-willed one! 🙂 Boils down to the old advice of “pick your battles.”
This is pure gold. I’ve definitely begun to let more things go than I used to, now that they’re getting older; but Will & how we negotiated that his grades define his Xbox time? It’s sooo hard not to give in, just to avoid awful teen male wrath. I literally just said 5 minutes ago, “These consequences have nothing to do with what *I* want. I’m sorry you dropped the ball, but I would be a bad parent, if I didn’t follow through on this.” There’s a lot of angry muttering & banging around upstairs right now. It’s a hard gig, for sure!
I totally get that – it’s so much easier to give in and keep the peace than it is to stand firm and follow through! Good job, mom, at following through when it’s hard 😉 and we have to believe that one day they’ll understand.