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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Three Keys to Helping Your Adolescent Earn 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
combined with newfound social connections leaves many students
struggling and most parents frustrated.

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

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 children’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  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.

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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A Simple Game to Help Your Student Thrive

It is common knowledge that a large vocabulary leads to increased intelligence. And, since the use of language begins in childhood, why not teach your children to enjoy learning and using new words?

I have always found pleasure in teaching new vocabulary to children of all ages. They generally balk at the mention of learning new words, it sounds too much like work, but once they realize they can use these new words to impress their friends, they generally get into the spirit of it.

Parents, it’s easy to make an ongoing activity of helping children learn and apply new vocabulary. Create a game for your family where each member listens or looks for one new word each week. (Search Google for word of the day sites if your children start off reluctant to play.)

At dinnertime, in the carpool line, or on the way to a sports event, family members can introduce their chosen word. The word should be pronounced and used in a sentence as a way of having family members guess the meaning. Once the meaning has been guessed, go one-step future and have family members practice the word by finding ways to use it in conversations throughout the week. Applying the new word helps children to recall it’s meaning over time.

If your children are young, there is an easier form of this activity you can play. Simply, introduce a “word of the week” on Monday. Pronounce the word, tell it’s meaning and use it in several sentences. Then ask children to find ways to use this word each day.

Granted in either game, not all words will be remembered over time. But some of the words will “stick” and become part of the way your child communicates. This game is a means of helping children feel smarter while offering your family a positive and unique way to bond.

Two of my favorite books for increasing the vocabulary of children are The Weighty Word Book and Weighty Words, Too. I used both these books in my years in the classroom. I also like giving them to young people as gifts. They are non-intimidating, colorful, short story books that teach new vocabulary in the most clever way imaginable. These short stories are written to be mnemonic devices that help children remember meaning and pronunciation of new words.

If you have a reluctant reader, buy one of these books and read a few of the stories together. It is likely your child will begin to read these entertaining stories independently. But beware you could soon be hearing some hundred-dollar words being tried out on you.
Parents, in order for children to thrive in school, it’s important that they feel successful and smart. Learning new vocabulary is one simple, easy way you can help your child grow academically.

Happy Parenting,


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