Never Argue With an Adolescent

Those of you who have children in this age group certainly understand this statement. It is a motto all good teachers live by, as it is the only way to survive the day in a middle school.

Parents, who don’t yet have children of this age, be forewarned, never argue with an adolescent; the child will out talk you every time.

Parents who choose to argue with an adolescent end up frustrated, often times befuddled, and angry, while it appears the child enjoys the test of wills. Adolescents can out last and out argue anyone. It seems they find pleasure in it.

One attribute of this age group is a growing awareness of injustice. Parents of adolescents hear statements like, “it’s not fair”, “he/she did it too”, and “you’re picking on me” as a child begins to demonstrate his own sense of justice.

While on a larger scale parents will notice older children being more aware of social injustices. Developmentally, it is in the adolescent years that children begin to notice and talk more about the world around them.

Many young people grow emotional or angry over global issues like world hunger, senseless war, and the destruction of natural disasters. They ask questions like how could this happen and what can be done to change it.

It is this same sense of justice that has children arguing to get their way until a parent finally caves in and cries “uncle”. Hence the child gets his or her way in the battle of wills.

So the question becomes, how does a parent work through issues with these strong willed children. Here are three tips that may help to keep you sane as you work through these trying years.

1.  Be fair

If your child asks to attend an event with friends, at school or other social setting, think it through before giving an answer. Unless the request is completely unreasonable, take time to think before responding. There will be plenty of requests from a child to gain more independence throughout these years. It is wise for parents to choose their battles well. The best way to truly be fair is to take a moment to consider the request.

2.  Be firm

If you know the answer to a request is a solid, “no”, then state the answer firmly leaving no room for doubt. This does not imply that parents should treat children with disrespect. A harsh tone does not need to be used. Simply, ‘no” will do.

If your child chooses to argue the point, ignore him or her. It is not easy, but the sooner a parent learns to live with the background noise of a disgruntled youth, the better. Ignoring children when they protest lets them know you mean what you say.

3.  Bargain

Most parents use this technique with younger children. One example most of us see regularly is a child crying in the grocery store. The parent offers candy or gum to pacify the child. This technique works even better with older children because bargaining with older children offers rich rewards.

Take for instance a child wants to attend a party. In the meantime, a school science project is due; it is perfectly acceptable to link attending the party with earning a passing grade on the project. At this point, the choice belongs to the child. If he or she chooses to take time to do the project well, the party is the reward.

Bargaining works with simple tasks as well. Parents can link daily chores to small rewards like watching a favorite show, playing on the computer, or talking on the phone.

Bargaining is a win/win situation for parents because it links children’s desires to a skill most young people need to learn, responsibility. This is a natural way for adolescents to simultaneously grow more independent and responsible.

Word of caution:

This technique is a great one, but it only works when parents are in the driver’s seat. Bargaining is not a two way street. It is not advisable to allow children to turn this around and attempt to set bargain guidelines. If this occurs children should be firmly told, “No.” Let them know this technique is a parent tool. Be prepared for the, “It’s not fair” argument and stand firm.

Parents, to avoid arguing with your children throughout their adolescent and teen years, it is important that consistency is established. Children need to know parents are in charge. Parental follow through during these experimental years helps children grow through the adolescent and teens years safely. It helps to set a firm foundation as children grow into responsible adults.

Happy Parenting!


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Social Injustice Can Help You Bond With Your Child

Most young adults have a keen sense of justice. During the adolescent years it’s as if they are just waking from a long sleep to realize the world is not a fair place. The words, “that’s not fair” can be heard from some adolescents’ daily. To their credit, they speak these words when they witness unfairness in any situation, not just those that affect them.

As parents, we try to speak logically and rationally about how life is not always fair. We explain that we too felt outrage and anger over unfair situations when we were young. We point out that as we mature we learn to accept what can’t be changed.

Sometimes these youth are so touched by situations that they refuse to “buy in” to the adult acceptance of life’s injustices. Instead these young people find the means and support to alter and improve circumstances.

Throughout history the naivety of the young has often created solutions to social issues that adults were too hardened, busy or callous to embrace. Think about this the next time your child brings up an unfair social situation.

Make time to talk with your adolescent or teen about social issues. Discuss appropriate items that are making headlines in the news. Get your child’s perspective and opinions on these issues.

Firstly, it is rewarding as a parent to hear the views of your children as they mature into young adults. Many parents feel a great sense of pride and accomplishment as they learn more about the views of their children.

Secondly, you may just stumble on a cause or project that you and your child can embark on together. You never know when the naivety of the youth and the resources of the mature may create a ripple that is felt across the community, state, country or world.

To view how some inspiring young adults made a positive impact on injustice watch this video at the link below.

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Happy Parenting!


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Three Keys to Transitioning to Middle School With Better Grades

It is not uncommon for students who earned passing grades in elementary school to find themselves overwhelmed and over worked in middle school. The level of academic responsibility increases with each year of schooling, but the leap from elementary to middle school creates the biggest challenge. Curriculum becomes more in-depth as the academic pace accelerates. This combination along with newfound social connections leaves many students struggling and many parents frustrated.

Follow these three simple habits at home to help regain control of the situation:

1. Organization is Key

As simple and unrelated as many people feel this component is, it is critical to academic success. Beyond the obvious and overstated, have a specific spot for homework assignments to be completed. The next step to this process is rarely mentioned; put the homework, books, teacher notes, notebooks etc, in the book bag at night.

Many students stumble into class each morning half awake only to find the work they spent time on the night before is still sitting on the dinning room table.

When this happens these assignments are considered missing, incomplete, or late. All of which put a lower grade in the gradebook. Several days of this repeated pattern and any GPA would certainly be reduced.

2. Be Proactive

Unlike the elementary years where teachers were available to keep parents informed of progress, middle school educators teach 100 or more students a day. The parent to teacher communication now falls mostly on the parent.

Be proactive. Monitor your child’s grades weekly. If you see low grades or notice that your child struggles with understanding homework assignments, it is wise to seek intervention immediately. Email the teacher. Ask what steps he or she recommends to get the tutoring your child needs. Take action and get help. The work your child is doing will only get more challenging as the year progresses.

3. Social Activities and Academic Effort

The adolescent mind is different than that of a child. By now your children are probably seeking more social outlets, friendships, and activities. While parents need to encourage children to participate in extracurricular activities, clear guidelines must be set. These guidelines should include a base level of academic success. Participation in social events should be allowed only when the agreed upon base for academic grades are met.

Far too many parents are unaware of the power of tying social events to academic success. When children know their social outlets are contingent upon their academic efforts, most are more willing to take responsibility to earn good grades.

Start and follow through with this practice in middle school, and by their high school years your children will know academic responsibility is imperative to their freedoms.

If you would like a happier, less stressful relationship with your child go victoria@thrivingstudent and ask for a free 30 minute consultation

Happy Parenting!


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