Jun 9, 2012

Practicing tough love with unruly teens

A house full of boys can be a handful for any parent. However, there is no need to act tough if everyone behaves and does what he’s supposed to do. If your boys are ten and eleven and are prone to getting into trouble outside, they should be indoors at the time stipulated by you.

You don’t want your kids wandering around at night in the streets and you have to know where they are at all times. They are not old enough to be out at night unless it is to visit family and you know where they are. Boys are just as susceptible to danger in the street as anyone else and if you have a child who is hanging around with the wrong kids after school and doing poorly in his studies it is time to address the problem. The idea is not to fix something after it has happened but by preventing it from happening in the first place.

Incentives for good behavior

• Sit down with your kids at the kitchen table and tell them to write down the new rules of the house. Be calm but firm and be precise in your reward and punishment system. Don’t deviate from your own rules.

• Tell them they have a five dollar pool from which they can earn for good and helpful behavior. If they help in the kitchen with the dishes and keep their rooms clean, they get a dollar. If they also do the lawn or keep up the general appearance of the house outside by picking up pizza boxes and popcorn containers and the dog’s poop every day, they get an extra dollar.

• The maximum weekly allowance for each child is $5 and they can earn the remaining $3 by offering to wash the car and cleaning the inside, for yet another dollar which leaves $2 still available for doing their homework every night and not getting into trouble at school. The last and most important dollar can be earned by being the most helpful.

• Tell them that you are not going to punish them with a timeout in their room for an infraction as it is just too easy, but by deducting a dollar if they misbehave. It is up to them how much they are going to earn. What you are trying to do here is to teach them responsibility and cause and effect.