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Entitlement Issue

Gift of Failure: How Parents Learn To Let Go

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 01, 2018  /   Posted in Entitlement Issue, Featured Book, Parenting Books, Parenting Teens, Teen Help

No one said raising kids was easy, but when it comes to teenagers that’s a completely different animal.

On a weekly basis I am bombarded with calls and emails from parents that are at their wit’s end dealing with their teen — we hear this a lot:

“Our highly intelligent son used to bring home all A’s now he is barely making D’s!”

Our daughter used to be a cheerleader, she was the captain, now she just quit!

It’s not my son, it’s his friends.

My daughter is so beautiful, smart, always had so many friends — now she is failing and someone we don’t even recognize.

Generalizing this, they are good kids sometimes making bad choices.

Is it today’s society of technology? Peer pressure? Parenting?

Maybe it can be a combination of life as a teen with a sprinkle of each of the above, after-all, it’s just not easy being a teen in any generation — and it’s not easy being a parent either.

Every parent needs the priceless Gift of Failure.

When I read this book this, I couldn’t put it down – and I don’t have teens or children anymore! It’s a page-turner and it made me realize the many parenting mistakes I made as a parent. It also actually helps me to understand why my adult kids act the way they do. Yikes!

Author, Jessica Lahey, was kind enough to answer a few questions.

Q.  For the many parents that have told their teenagers from a very young age just how very smart they are and now they are facing the consequences since their child is either failing or severely underachieving — is there a way to turn this around if they are in middle school or high school? 

JL:  When parents get emotional at my speaking events, it’s usually the parents of teens who have been overparented into a state of near-helplessness, or praised for being smart or talented or gifted solidly into a fixed mindset. These parents get upset because they are finally coming to terms with how VERY little time they have left to turn that ship around. They can do it, though. The first step is to get SERIOUSLY honest with their teens about the fact that mistakes have been made. Extreme honesty may be frightening, but the only way to get buy-in from teens is to admit to mistakes, announce your intentions to let go and give your teen more autonomy and opportunities to learn, and – here’s the most important part – mean it.

Next, set crystal clear expectations – for school, household duties, wherever you are backing off, and explain what the consequences will be if those expectations are not met. Try to keep the consequences as relevant to the task at hand as possible. For example, if homework is not getting handed in, it will be the teen’s responsibility to set up a meeting with their teacher and find out what needs to be done to remedy the situation. Inform your child’s teachers of this change in protocol if you have previously been over-involved in your child’s academic life, and let the teacher know that you won’t be checking in, or logging into the grading portal, and therefore, the teacher will need to inform you if things go deeply awry.

Once you’ve handed some autonomy back to your kid, tell them that you trust them to be able to handle it, and that you are still there for them if they need you. There will be a honeymoon period where everything goes beautifully, followed by a relapse and testing period where the teen feels out the limits of his or her new autonomy, but eventually, the pendulum will come to rest in a reasonable, healthy place.

Q. Parent’s frequently will say, “It’s not my teen, it’s their friends/peers that they are hanging with,” when it pertains to negative behavior. If this is true or not, should parents intervene with friendships?

JL: It’s important for parents to understand that the role of friendship changes as kids mature. Early on in life, friendships are more about proximity than anything else. Kids pick friends from whomever is nearby. As kids get older, they begin to choose friends based on identities and traits they’d like to try on for themselves. Those friends may not always be your cup of tea, but try to think of these kids as a safer way for your child to decide whether they want to be like that friend. Talk to your child about how that friend makes them feel. What do they admire in that friend? Why do they like to spend time with that friend? Talk about your own relationships – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Talk about the people you have left behind because they made you feel bad about yourself, inspired competition, or tried to change you. Your experience, offered in a supportive manner, is invaluable to your teen as they navigate these friendships and trial identities.

Q. As a teacher, please share with parents of teenagers (especially since they will be heading into adulthood shortly), why the Gift of Failure is such an important lesson to learn – and it’s better to start now, then never.

JL: If there’s one takeaway I hope parents of teens will take away from The Gift of Failure, it’s that our short term goal of making our children happy and making ourselves feel good about our parenting are sometimes incompatible with the more long-term goals of creating competent, capable adults. Think long term. Think about how you will feel about your parenting a year from now, rather than tomorrow. Parenting is a long-haul job.

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Jess Lahey has recently started a YouTube series on parenting kids and teens today! Subscribe to it now – don’t miss her tips, advice and experiences! She offers great insights and advice from motivating your teen to better understanding the parent-teen conflicts. Subscribe today! It’s free!

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Raising Responsible Teens in an Entitlement Generation

Posted by Sue Scheff on December 01, 2015  /   Posted in Entitlement Issue, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

EntitledTeenRaising teenagers is not easy especially when they are expected everything handed to them. It seems we live in an entitlement generation.

It’s not uncommon to hear parents of teenagers bemoaning the lack of responsibility and maturity that their children exhibit. As kids get older and enter into the teenage years, it becomes more apparent that they’re actually approaching adulthood, whether they’re prepared for it or not.

Instilling a sense of responsibility in a teenager can be a very challenging prospect, but it can also help them to avoid succumbing to peer pressure or failing to learn important life skills as they grow into productive, capable adults.

Let Them Experience Natural Consequences

It’s normal to want to limit your teen’s exposure to disappointment, failure and hurt as she grows into an adult. However, shielding her from the natural consequences of her more irresponsible behavior will only make it more difficult for her to connect her choices to those consequences. While you certainly shouldn’t allow your child to behave recklessly or take dangerous risks without intervening, you also should think twice before stepping in to protect her from the inconvenience or even disappointment of making an irresponsible choice. For instance, nagging and cajoling your teen to collect her laundry or pay her cell phone bill will probably only make her more likely to resist in an attempt to test boundaries and assert her independence. Allowing her phone to be shut off or her clothes to go unwashed as a result of her choice not to manage those tasks, however, can help her to understand the importance of managing her responsibilities.

Model Responsible Behavior

While a teenager may not show many signs of listening to what you say, you can be certain that she’s watching the things that you do. Demanding her to behave responsibly while allowing her to see you making decidedly irresponsible choices is not only ineffective, it can also be downright offensive to kids. Taking a “do as I say, not as I do” approach to parenting doesn’t usually help your children gain the skills or learn the lessons that they need to learn, so be sure that you’re practicing what you preach when it comes to accepting responsibility and behaving accordingly.

Minimize Large, No-Strings-Attached Purchases

It’s become something of a rite of passage for teenagers to receive vehicles and other pricey objects as they come of age, but simply presenting them with such items without requiring that they take ownership for care and maintenance of them, or make any financial investment of their own, can cause your teen to feel as if she’s entitled to such grand gestures. Helping your teen to purchase a car but insisting that she make part of the payments, purchasing a car outright but requiring her to pay for the insurance, and making sure that she alone is responsible for the care and upkeep of her things can help her learn more about how to be responsible and that she has to earn the things she wants rather than them just being given to her.

parent-talking-to-teenMaintain an Open Line of Communication

When your teen knows that she can approach you with her problems, concerns or questions, she may be more likely to do just that. Part of being responsible is learning how to admit when you need help, and learning from the experiences she has along the way. Make sure that your child knows she can come to you when she’s feeling pressured or anxious so that she’ll be more likely to address her problems than to seek an irresponsible, escapist solution that could have far-reaching implications.

Make a Chore List

If your teen wasn’t responsible for keeping track of and completing a list of chores as a child, instituting a policy of doing just that after she reaches adolescence can be a struggle. Still, she needs to understand that there are tasks in life that must be completed, even if they’re distasteful or less than thrilling. Giving your teen a list of chores and some real-life, practical consequences that accompany her failure to complete them are two ways of helping her to gain responsibility through experience and consequences.

FamilyDinnerEat Dinner as a Family

In today’s busy world, sitting down to family dinners can seem like a major inconvenience. Studies at Emory University, The National Center of Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University and a white paper study by Dr. William J. Dougherty all show, however, that kids and teens that regularly share meals with their families have lower rates of obesity, higher academic performance, are less likely to develop or struggle with eating disorders, have higher self-esteem, and have lowered risks of depression, substance abuse and teen pregnancy than their peers whose families don’t share meals together. Preparing and sharing dinner as a family unit can help your child make more responsible choices and be more capable, productive and successful in adulthood.

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Teen and Parent Communication: Starting the Conversation

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 18, 2015  /   Posted in Entitlement Issue, Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Parenting teens today is not the easiest job, although if you ask our parents or grandparents I would venture to say they would remember challenging times too. It’s all relative.

Teens have a mind of their own.

They seem to move from child to young adult almost overnight.  Parents of teens frequently find themselves irritated by the things they say and the way they act.  You may be trying to make sense of the chaos of adolescence, but it can be a mistake to judge them too quickly.

Here are a few myths about teenagers and how to be sure you dispel them.

My teen doesn’t care about my feelings.  The words your teen uses might lead you to feel unloved by him, however, the truth is that he does care about you a great deal.

Children from around age 11 and up are going through many changes.  Some are physical in nature, but there are also many emotional shifts.  Your child is growing up, learning a lot and realizing that at some point he is going to have to live a life apart from you.  He is attempting to assert his independence from you and is at times unsure of how to do this appropriately.  He will attempt many things, including talking back and disregarding your feelings.  Your teen actually cares a great deal about your feelings and is looking for reassurance that it is ok for him to separate from you in some ways.  While it may not be acceptable for him to talk to you in a disrespectful way, it’s important to talk to and treat your teen like an adult as much as you can.  How do you respond to other adults when they say hurtful things to you?

My teenager is lazy. While some teens have better work ethic than others, the adjective “lazy” is not an accurate description of most teens.  When motivated, a teen can do amazing things; even a teen who plays video games for too many hours a day can be inspired to do amazing things.  The key term here is motivation.  Finding what motivates your teen is important, and may be the only way to get him to get off the couch and help around the house.  The best way to motivate a teen is to give him ownership of the project.

If you expect him to help keep the house clean, then he needs to feel that he has a vested interest in the home.  Letting him have input on where furniture goes, what carpet is picked out or what color the walls are can go further in investing your child in the home than you think.  There is nothing wrong with offering incentives for your child to complete tasks, whether monetary or relationship based.  However, nagging and hounding your teen will NOT create motivation.

My teen never listens to my advice.  Teenagers are going though many changes and are trying to find their identity outside of their parents view.  Your teen is most likely listening to you, but greatly wants to gain an independent life. He is afraid that following your advice will lead him to being dependent on you for a long time.  Parents of teens have to walk a very thin line between giving advice and telling the child what to do.  If your teen is still coming to you for advice, count yourself lucky, because that often stops at some point in the adolescent years too.

When your child tells you a story or shares an issue he is facing, do not jump in and tell him how to fix the problem.  Step back and just listen, ask questions to clarify and then validate the feelings he might be having about the situation.  Once he has finished the story, you can ask him if he wants your advice.  He may say no, in which case you thank him for telling you and let him know you are there if he wants to talk about it further.  If he says he wants your advice, give it with caution, understanding the best way for him to learn is if he helps to come up with the solution.  Because of this, aiding your child through questions can be the most helpful.  Once the advice is given, it is his hands.  He needs to be given the freedom to choose what he will do with your suggestions.

DadSonComputer

Get interested in their interests!

My teen does not want to spend time with me anymore.  While it is very true that as your child gets older he will spend less and less time with you, it is far from the truth that your teen does not want to spend time with you.  Most teens have more activities outside of the home as they get older and their interests change drastically, sometimes from one day to the next.  The way they talk might even change.  All these adjustments mean that you will understand him less and less each day.

It is not that he wants to spend less time with you; it is that he perceives there are fewer things he has in common with you.  Making an effort to understand the culture and how it changes from day to day can greatly improve the time you spend together because you will have more in common with him.  The truth is that he still craves the time he gets to spend with his mom or dad, but realizes often unconsciously that he needs to pull away from you too.

It is too late to build good communication habits in my teen. It is never too late to teach and model healthy communication habits.  You may feel that the habits both you and your child have are already ingrained in your mind and will never change, but that simply is not true.  It takes small but measurable changes in your behavior to effectively help your teen communicate better.  Your teen is likely looking for someone to work to understand him, even if that person never fully can.

Raising a teenager can be a maddening adventure, but it can also be touching.  To see the child that was once so little and helpless becoming an adult can be overwhelming.  Sometimes parents want to hold onto the little child they once knew.  Unfortunately, attempting to hold on by treating the young adult like you did when he was little can cause a great deal of friction between you both.  It is a difficult process to communicate with a teenager, but when done with respect and understanding it can be a less frustrating phase.

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Do you find your teen shutting-down? Are you not able to get through to them and have exhausted your local resources such as therapy?  Contact us for information on residential treatment.

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Respect: A Word Some Teens Are Not Familiar With Today

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 14, 2015  /   Posted in Entitlement Issue, Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

MomTeenRespectA word that needs to come back into this generation of teenagers.

It’s evident we live in a society of entitlement.

As a child approaches adolescence, the natural exploration of boundaries and the need to assert his own independence often leaves his parents feeling as if all respect between them has dissipated. Arguing, defiance and even foul language are normal, though admittedly incredibly frustrating, aspects of parenting a teenager.

While regaining a teen’s respect may seem like an impossible proposition, there are ways that you can restore some semblance of balance and civility to your relationship as he gets older. While patience and a refusal to reward bad behavior are the keys to maintaining a measure of order in your home as the parent of teenagers, there are some methods that can supplement your efforts along the way.

Show Respect
In order to maintain your teenager’s respect, you’ll need to make sure that you show the same measure of respect in return. If you resort to shouting, threats and anger to get your point across, your teen isn’t likely to have much respect for your pleas for civility. Demanding that your adolescent child blindly follows your directions and falls in line with your rules while refusing to show any sort of respect for their own valid feelings and needs is far more likely to backfire than to inspire
rank-and-file obedience.

Set Reasonable Boundaries
Just as younger children need to know what the boundaries of acceptable behavior are in order to stay within them, so will your teen. The difference between them is that your teenager will need a bit of independence to make his own choices. Allowing him a reasonable amount of space to explore the world as he matures will allow your teen to make mistakes that will serve as learning experiences, and not feel as if he’s being stifled by the demands of adults that he views as out of touch with the world. While you certainly don’t want to encourage dangerous experimentation or condone bad decisions that will affect the rest of his life, it is wise to give him ample space to make a few minor mistakes he can learn from.

Maintain an Open Line of Communication
When a teen feels as if you’re completely out of touch and aren’t willing to listen to him, he’s not likely to approach you with his concerns or seek advice from you about difficult situations he faces. Making sure that you establish and maintain an open line of judgment-free communication reinforces the idea that he can still come to you when he’s in trouble, and that you will respect his growing maturity. In return, your teen is more likely to extend the same respect to you.

Try Not to Feel Hurt or Rejected
It’s normal to feel as if you’re being rejected by your teenager when he seems to constantly choose his friends and peers over you, but it’s important to remember that it’s a natural part of growing up. Feeling that pain is understandable and acceptable, but it’s not a good idea to act on your hurt feelings by lashing out or establishing excessively restrictive rules that force him to spend his free time with you. Forced time is not quality time, and will almost certainly end in a showdown.

Realize That “Do as I Say, Not as I Do” is Counter-Productive
The desire to ensure that your child doesn’t make the same mistakes you have or exhibit the same problem personality traits can create an environment in which you expect your child to follow your instructions while you openly flout them. The “do as I say, not as I do” approach isn’t effective when children are young, but it can truly come back to haunt you when a teenager accuses you of hypocrisy and unfairness. Try to model the behavior you want your teen to exhibit to the best of your abilities to avoid these altercations and encourage him to respect you.

TeenMowingGive Them Responsibilities
Kids who have no responsibilities and a sense of entitlement that leads them to feel as if the world owes them everything have no respect for anyone or anything. Making sure that your children have some responsibilities, both financial and in the way of chores or daily tasks, may not seem like a recipe for respect on the surface, however the qualities that having some responsibility instills naturally extend themselves to having a bit more respect than their overindulged peers.

Recognize the Things They Do
While you’re delegating responsibility and setting reasonable boundaries, make sure that you take the time to acknowledge and openly appreciate the things that your teenager does. Feeling as if his efforts to abide by the rules and contribute to the household are completely unnoticed or unappreciated doesn’t inspire your teen to keep meeting expectations that he knows you won’t acknowledge anyway. Take a moment to thank your teen for helping out or behaving well, and let him know that the freedom he is afforded is directly tied to the fact that his good behavior at home indicates to you that he can be trusted.

Is your teen completely out of control? Disrespecting you and your boundaries? Are you feeling like a hostage in your own home? After exhausting your local resources, such as reaching out for help with a counselor, please contact us about information for residential therapy.

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Teens, Entitlement Issues and Summer Jobs

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 07, 2015  /   Posted in Entitlement Issue, Parenting Teens

Is your teen spoiled?

In today’s society, kids seem to expect parents to provide expensive gadgets and designer clothes without a thought as to who or how they will be paid for.  Some parents will go into debt to be sure their teen is keeping up with their peers, while others might be able to afford — and of course there are those that simply just can’t afford this lifestyle.  They might be the lucky ones. Why? They are in a position where they will learn the lessons of accountability and responsibility.

What happened to old fashioned work ethic?

With shows like “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills” not to mention the “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” that glorify teens that have extravagant lives and demanding over the top birthday parties we’ve become inundated with the idea that our teens need to be pampered and spoiled beyond reason.

This mindset has led to teens believing that they deserve the most expensive clothes, cars, and cell phones, and that these things should just be handed to them on demand. The reality of it, though, is that our teenagers should be learning the importance of working hard for what they want, and one way to impart this lesson and have them reap the benefits of it is by having them work a part-time job.

There are numerous lessons and values teens will learn from working:

  1. Time management:  Having to balance school and work will teach teens early on the importance of prioritizing responsibilities and managing their time. The sooner they learn how to do this the better off they’ll be when they leave for college and eventually branch out into the real world of full-time jobs and responsibilities.
  2. Help build a resume:  Being able to list work experience on a resume will help your teen get ahead of the crowd when it comes time to apply for college or find a full-time job. It will show prospective colleges and employers that your teen is a motivated, hard-working individual and will set them above the people who have no prior work experience.
  3. Financial independence:  There’s a certain satisfaction that is brought about by being able to buy something you want with your own hard-earned money, and having a job that brings in a paycheck will allow teens to learn how to effectively manage their money and rely on themselves and not their parents for different purchases. Learning to manage money is a life skill that everyone needs to have, so learning it early on will only benefit your teenager.
  4. Develop indispensable life skills:  Your teen will learn very quickly the importance of working as a team and having solid communication skills, two talents that are transferrable into almost any industry or experience. The experiences that they have, both good and bad, from a part-time job will help them to become better-rounded as an individual.
  5. Learn the value of hard work:  Unfortunately hard work is becoming more under-valued these days, especially with teens, and it’s important to teach our kids that hard work is a trait to be admired and respected. Learning to work for what you want is an advantageous tool to have.

While your teens may complain about having to get a job initially, it’s likely that they’ll end up thanking you for it in the long run. The lessons they’ll learn from having to work a part-time job are irreplaceable.

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