By Darcy McConnell, LPC, LADC
What are a teenager’s rights? Hopefully we can all can agree that teens have the right to be treated as a human being by friends, family and associates. While every family is different, each teen deserves someone to provide support, comfort and to remain safe from physical and emotional violence. They have the right to a sustainable lifestyle including adequate shelter, food and clothing. Of course, this doesn't mean the right to the most desired clothing, cars, electronics, etc.! In Oklahoma, with the support of their high school administrator, teens at age 16, have the right to work. All teens have the right to an education which includes having the proper resources, environment, and facilities to learn the basic levels of public education.
On the other hand, there are some behaviors that teens do NOT have the right to engage in: Constantly demanding to be the center of attention, or spending an inordinate amount of time complaining about things in their lives not being fair. Teens do have the right to make statements such as “you don’t love me” or “you just don’t care about me” when told no, however, they do not have the right throw fits and be disrespectful when asked to help out with chores or refuse to follow rules. If your teen often mistreats, breaks, or loses their belongings they do not have the right to replacements. Speaking to a parent or other adult in a demanding or degrading voice is not a right regardless of emotionality.
If the latter is reminiscent of your child then it is probable that somewhere along the way, they began to think they were entitled to everything they want in their world and you have allowed it. That is painful to hear, I know, but you are in good company. The good news is you can change your parenting philosophy and likely achieve a better result. The only way to change this course that will undoubtedly lead to disappointment and hurt for your child is to begin disciplining your teen right now. This is NOT easy. But, a teenager who is not taught about limits and boundaries in life will not be equipped to be a productive adult. It is important for them to have enough freedom to make mistakes and it’s the guidance through these mistakes that that create the life lessons. The following are some discipline techniques for teenagers that focus address teaching and punishment;>
1. Restricted Privileges
Restriction of privileges is necessary and may include grounding or taking away valued possessions of a specified period of time. This techniques is only effective if it pertains to something that your teen values most. The goal is to cause enough discomfort that they don’t easily forget the mistake. There must be clear guidelines as to how and when the privilege will be restored.
2. Behavior Contract
Behavior contracts are binding agreements where expectations are clearly stated and agreed upon. Unmet expectations and consequences are clearly stated prior to agreement. This teaches the value of written and verbal agreements. This is a helpful technique that keeps arguing out of the discipline equation because it’s so concretely stated in the beginning. These type of contract should be very specific and not deviated from.
3. Extra Responsibilities
Imposition of additional responsibilities for your teens can be helpful in teaching restitution values. Allowing your teen to make amends for misbehavior can be a valuable teaching technique especially when a party has been harmed by their poor decisions or mistakes.
4. Logical Consequences
Logical consequences directly related to misbehavior and help with the understanding of why they’re in trouble. The idea is to help them think it through next time.
5. Reward Good Behavior
Positive reinforcement with a reward system is a helpful way to motivate your teen toward behavioral change.
If you need a little more guidance on parenting teens, follow our blog on our website: http://www.edmondfamily.org>. There are resources there to help! If you would need counseling, give Edmond Family Counseling a call. 405-341-3554. Donations are always appreciated!