Discipline for Stubborn Teenagers

Discipline for stubborn teenagers requires a firmer hand, often with a greater show of love than her obedient, well-behaved sibling. Don’t despair if you have a stubborn teenager with intense opinions and a demanding nature. Although your teenager’s determined attempts to control her own life can frustrate and exhaust you as a parent, there’s hope. You can come to understand your teenager and learn to shape her will without breaking her spirit.

Here’s how you can help your stubborn teenager:

1. Always follow through. Understand that your stubborn teenager can take advantage of you if you do not follow through because you are too busy or too tired to stand firm on what you have previously stated. If, for example, you have said that you will not allow your teenager to watch television if she does not cooperate, then you must take this privilege away from her for some time.

2. Avoid power struggles by using routines and rules.  That way, you aren't bossing them around, it’s just that, "In our house, we finish homework before computer, TV, or telephone time."  In this way, the parent stops being the bad guy.

3. Direct your stubborn teenager's energy into constructive activities like volunteering in the community or playing on sports teams.

4. Discipline through the relationship, never through punishment. Teens don’t learn when they’re in the middle of a fight.  Like all of us, that’s when adrenaline is pumping and learning shuts off.  Teens behave because they want to please us.  The more you argue with and punish your teenager, the more you undermine his desire to please you.

5. No matter how hard the battles become, never give up. Understand that your teenager doesn’t hate you – she is just more persistent in testing you than a more compliant teenager would be. Know that your teenager longs for you to provide consistent, firm, and loving discipline, because that provides the security needs.

6. Choose your battles wisely, considering what truly matters and what doesn’t affect your core values. Be as clear about instructions as you are about consequences.

7. Do your best to exercise patience in the midst of conflicts with your stubborn teenager. Recognize the fact that your yelling will only add fuel to the fire. Stand firm without provoking your teenager to fight against you.

8. Don't push your teenager into opposing you.  If you take a hard and fast position, you can easily push her into defying you, just to prove a point.  You'll know when it's a power struggle and you're invested in winning.  Just stop, take a breath, and remind yourself that winning a battle with your teenager always sets you up to lose what’s most important: the relationship.  When in doubt say, "Ok, you can decide this for yourself."  If she can't decide, then say what part of it she can decide, or find another way for her to meet her need for autonomy without compromising her health or safety.

9. Keep in mind that your teenager is a gift with great potential. Realize that a stubborn temperament can be an asset just as much as a drawback. Know that a stubborn teenager can apply his determination to something as noble as finding a cure for cancer, or as destructive as organizing a crime ring. Recognize that the key lies in directing your teenager’s stubbornness toward positive purposes rather than negative ones.

10. Give your stubborn teenager choices.  If you give orders, she will almost certainly bristle.  If you offer a choice, she feels like the master of her own destiny.  Of course, only offer choices you can live with, and don’t let yourself get resentful by giving away your power.

11. Give your teenager responsibilities. Remember that stubborn teenagers are born leaders with exceptional abilities to solve problems. Give him as many responsibilities as you can that are appropriate to his age, such as pet ownership, household chores, and a paper route or other part-time job. Show your teenager that you respect his abilities.

12. Know that you’re not alone. Understand that a stubborn teenager isn’t an anomaly. Recognize that plenty of other stubborn teenagers exist, and get to know the moms and dads of a few of them to support each other.

13. Leave the room when your stubborn teenager losing his temper (as long as he is not in danger of being harmed if you do so). Understand that once your teenager realizes that his anger does not affect you, he will eventually stop this behavior on his own.

14. You, as the parent, might reasonably presume you know best.  But your stubborn teenager willful partly as a result of his integrity. He has a viewpoint that is making him hold fast to his position, and he is trying to protect something that seems important to him. Only by listening calmly and reflecting his words will you come to understand what’s making him oppose you. Encourage your teenager to express himself. Show a genuine interest in his thoughts and opinions as you discuss them together.

15. Look your stubborn teenager right in the eye when you speak to him to block out any surrounding distractions. Do this whether you are disciplining him or engaging in a normal conversation. Understand that your teenager needs to know he has your full attention.

16. Most stubborn teenagers are fighting for respect.   If you offer it to them, they don’t need to fight to protect their position.  And, like the rest of us, it helps a lot if they feel understood.  If you see his point of view and think he's wrong, you can still offer him empathy and meet him part way while you set the limit.

17. Recognize the tender teenager underneath the tough behavior. Remember that your teenager, like everyone else, wants to be loved, appreciated, and respected. Catch your teenager doing something right as often as you can, then encourage him to keep it up. Affirm your teenager through your words and actions. Show him regular affection. Be your teenager’s advocate in challenging situations at school and elsewhere. Help prevent him from being mistreated or ridiculed. Surround your teenager with grown-ups who understand and encourage him. When helping your teenager deal with a conflict, don’t always assume that your teenager is either right or wrong. Instead, carefully evaluate the situation to search for the truth, and discuss it honestly with your teenager.

18. See it from her point of view.  For example, she may be angry because you promised to take her and her friend to the Mall.  To you, she is being stubborn.  To her, she is justifiably upset, and you are being hypocritical, because she is not allowed to break promises to you.  What should you do in circumstances like this?  Apologize for breaking your promise, reassure her that you try very hard to keep your promises, and take her to the Mall.  Just consider they way you would want to be treated, and treat her accordingly.

19. Let your teenager save face.  You don’t have to prove you’re right. You can, and should, set reasonable expectations and enforce them.  But under no circumstances should you try to break your teenager’s will or force him to acquiesce to your views

20. Understand that stubborn teenagers need to experience the consequences of their actions (instead of simply listening to your reasoning). Figure out what matters the most to your teenager to create the most appropriate consequences for him when his behavior gets out of control.

21. Your stubborn teenager wants mastery more than anything.  Let her take charge of as many of her activities as possible.  Teens that feel more independent and in charge of themselves will have less need to stubborn (not to mention they take responsibility early).

==> Discipline for Defiant Teens: Parenting Course

Discipline for Smoking Marijuana

Most moms and dads try to focus adolescent discipline on choosing the right consequences to stop an adolescent from smoking marijuana again. But disciplining adolescents doesn’t address the real reasons behind an adolescent’s pot use. Using mood-altering chemicals often fills a need for theses teens, and they are NOT going to stop just because they got caught and received some form of punishment from parents.

So what is a parent to do about teen drug use? Here’s how parents can effectively get their teenagers to “choose” to stop smoking pot:

1. Begin a dialogue with your child about your feelings about marijuana smoking. Ask her questions about why she does it, how long she's been doing it, how many of her friends do it, etc. Let her tell you the story of how the marijuana smoking began and how it fits into her life. This discussion - and the ones that follow - should focus on what's going on that concerns her the most, what worries her, what gives her pleasure, her social life, etc. rather than just talking about why she's been illegally smoking marijuana.

2. Don't freak out. A vein-popping lecture will drive your teen away and shut down any chance of a meaningful discussion. After you've cooled down and talked about the issue with your spouse, meet in your child’s room (she'll be more receptive on her own turf). Explain that you're concerned she's not making smart decisions. Reinforce the message that she needs to stay clear-minded and focused in life, and that mood-altering chemicals will knock her off those paths. If she asks whether or not you smoked marijuana or drank alcohol when you were her age, don't let her steer the conversation away from herself. Telling her what you did or didn't do isn't important. This is not a 'true confessions' moment.

3. Be careful not to judge your child – or your parenting skills. If she's using drugs, there are probably many reasons for this, only a few of which you might have control over.

4. Keep in mind that if your child is afraid of your reaction to her pot smoking, you are less likely to get the truth from her. Keep your emotions in check and don't focus on consequences. You'll have plenty of time to figure out appropriate consequences later. Let her feel safe enough to talk with you. Keep your focus on helping her with this situation, not on coming up with the proper consequence.

5. Understand that mood-altering chemicals feed the teenage brain’s limbic system. Research has lead scientists to better understand the brain’s unique stage of development during the teen years. Throughout adolescence, the limbic system is on alert and craves novelty. Engaging in new experiences feeds the limbic system’s high need for spontaneity during the teen years. After reading any of the new research about adolescent brain development and its hyper-aware limbic system, it’s easy to see how smoking marijuana satisfies a strong need in the teen brain. Disciplining adolescents computes to the brain’s cortex or “thinking brain,” but the limbic system’s intense need for sensory stimulation often overrides the rational cortex. Understanding the adolescent brain doesn’t mean that moms and dads should let their adolescent “off the hook” for using mood-altering chemicals, but it does help them see how “what makes sense” to the adult brain doesn’t necessarily hold true for the teen brain.

6. Disciplining adolescents may make moms and dads feel better in the sense that they are “doing something” about an adolescent using a mood-altering substance or that an adolescent isn’t “getting away with” smoking marijuana. But disciplining adolescents only focuses on the symptoms of pot use and doesn’t address the real reasons that an adolescent is smoking marijuana. Effective adolescent discipline requires an understanding of the behavior combined with strategies that teach adolescents alternative methods to get their needs met. Some adolescents say they want to experiment and find out what effect that pot has. Others say they like to be part of the group. And still others say they think using drugs makes them less shy, less boring, freer, faster, sexier, and happier.

7. Seek out drug programs in your area, as well as a talented therapist who deals with teenagers your child’s age who have had drug problems. Don't jump to the conclusion that your child is a drug addict and needs to put into an institution. Treat your discovery of her marijuana smoking as a call to you as a parent to seek the help of professionals, trusted family friends whom your child likes and respects, and any other adults who have had a positive influence in her life. The goal here is to understand why she's doing this and getting her the help that she needs to stop.

8. When you have evidence that your child is using, or you suspect she's using, share that with her. Often we think it's our duty to trick our kids into telling us the truth, when in fact we're simply setting them up to lie to us. For example, if you were to approach your child and say, "Have you been smoking pot lately?" …there is a strong likelihood that she will say no – even if you have evidence that she has been using it. A much better way to handle the situation is to tell your child everything you know – and then be quiet. In this case you would say, "When I was cleaning your room today, I found marijuana in the pocket of your pants." That's it. That is all you say. Simply wait for her reply. Most adolescents have a need to argue with parents in an attempt to take them off topic. Don't fall for that trap. She might reply, "What were you doing in my room and going through my stuff? You have no right to be there." Parents should acknowledge that, and then get right back to the topic (e.g., "Perhaps you're right. I shouldn’t have been looking in your pants pocket. I'm sorry for invading your privacy. Now please tell me about the marijuana.").

9. Using mood-altering chemicals may be an efficient method for adolescents to fit in among a peer group. If adolescents are smoking marijuana to be part of a group, adolescent discipline strategies (e.g., grounding or restriction) won’t take away an adolescent’s need to fit in. Feeling a sense of belonging among peers is an extremely important goal for the developing teen brain. As well, disciplining adolescents doesn’t help them seek new and different strategies to belong to a peer group. A study at the University of Iowa points to an “image is everything” belief among adolescents. Although moms and dads may have well prepared an adolescent to “lead instead of follow,” the need to fit in is monumental for the teen brain. Many adolescents will sacrifice loftier goals and use the tool of smoking marijuana in order to gain peer acceptance. Effective adolescent discipline includes teaching friendship skills, coping skills and healthy methods to fit in to their peer group.

10. Your end result should be to find a consequence that will help her to make better choices the next time she's faced with the situation of using mood-altering chemicals. Include her in that process. If you threaten to take the car away or some other consequence, how do you know that will be effective? She may be already thinking of other forms of transportation. Or maybe taking the car away will actually get in the way of helping her get to her job and thus completing her required work to get her diploma. So think this through. Don't focus on consequences. Focus on helping her.