October 23, 2014
Talk to Teens about Character
Teens are at an important stage in life where they are developing their own value system. Sometimes teens seem unresponsive to parental leadership but what you say has more weight than you imagine. Take time to identify character strengths and weaknesses and then respond accordingly.
When you see a problem, relating a consequence to the specific weakness can be more productive than just "grounding" a teen.
You might say, "I sense an ungrateful spirit in you, yet you seem to continually want me to sacrifice. I don't mind helping you, but I'm going to say no this time and I'll watch and see if your gratefulness increases for the things I'm already doing for you." This type of response teaches young people the value of gratefulness instead of just considering their own goals and desires.
A teen who lacks thoughtfulness about household chores may need a contract where parents agree to drive to an activity if the teen agrees to clean out the car. This again forces young people to give up demandingness and think of the needs of others. Sometimes teens want to come and go as they please but expect food on the table and their clothes cleaned.
One mom who was raising her fifth teenager said, "Alan is 13 now. When he was in kindergarten he was diagnosed with ADHD. He is often assertive in order to control situations. My husband and I have learned over the years that what we see as areas of weakness can turn into areas of strength later on. Alan is daring, not afraid to try something new. This last summer he went on a mission trip and was the youngest member of the team. He did well and was bolder than many of the adults. They found his assertiveness an encouragement."
Make observations for teens and give them feedback about their character.
"It looks like you're easily influenced by your peers."
"You seem to be having trouble managing money."
"Those words are unkind."
Don't overdo negative observations but helping teens see character weaknesses can be an effective way to help them grow. Look for positive character qualities to affirm as well.
“Thank you for taking initiative to clean up the kitchen.”
“Looks like you’re becoming more conscientious with your schoolwork.”
Giving your teen character-based feedback will be quite helpful over time.
This parenting tip comes from the book Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes, In You and Your Kids by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN. Chapter 8 is entitled Helping Teens Through the "Tunnel Years."
More Helpful Tips:
A Lesson in Honor
A Practical Way to Teach Responsibility
A Practical Way to Teach Values
A Time to Practice Saying Thank You
A Work in Progress
Addressing Sibling Conflict
Allow Life to Be the Teacher
An Indirect Approach to Sibling Conflict
Anger is Good
Bad Attitudes Are Automatic Responses
Be Firm Without Being Harsh
Building Relationship Makes Kids More Responsive
Caring for Others
Christmas: A Time to Teach Generosity
Communication is Key
Dealing with Morning Dawdling
Desire and Temptation
Don't be Deterred by Resistance
Don't Take the Bait
Ending Every Discipline Time Positively
Ending the Discipline Time Positively
Explain New Rules Before You Start
Getting Kids to Listen without Yelling
Helping Kids Deal with Emotions
Helping Children Take Responsibility - Part 2
Helping Children Take Responsibility – Part 1
Honesty Requires Character
Honor Defined in Practical Terms
Inspecting Children's Work
Is there a Difference Between Honor and Respect?
Kids Love Heroes
Keep Connections Open
Look Out For Boasting
Monitor Frustration Levels
Not Just Behavior Change
Obey First and Then We'll Talk About It
One Way to Teach Kids Honor
Patterns in Family Life
Practical Ways to Connect with Your Child’s Heart
Problem Solving and Decision Making
Retraining the Heart
Sad Instead of Mad
Should I Change My Mind?
Some Kids Drain Energy Out of Family Life
Stop Anger When it Starts
Strong-Willed Children are a Blessing
Suggestions for Influencing Teens
Talk to Teens about Character
Tasks, Problems, Conflict
Teach Children What to Do Next Time
Teaching Children About Anger
Teaching Children to Look for Ways to Help
Teaching Children to Wait
Teaching Through Decision Making
Teaching "Why" Helps Children For the Future
Teens Need Relationship
“That’s Not Fair!”
The Benefit of Reporting Back
The Conscience Needs Training
The Good Side of Anger
The Gratefulness Principle
The Key to Making Devotions Fun
The Truth about Lying
The Value of Correction
The Value of Training
The Way You Give Instructions
Use Generosity to Teach Honor
When Children Resist Instructions
When Giving Instructions, Consider the Timing
When Kids Want to Fight
Where a Bad Attitude Comes From
Your Child has a Conscience