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Concept of Understanding

by | Published: | Updated: 02/02/2020


Concept of Understanding - 

As your child turns into a teenager, your parenting role is likely to shift. You may find yourself becoming more of a guide, rather than an enforcer. That’s not to say your child won’t need you to intervene when there are safety issues or that your teen won’t need consequences. But, by now, it’s OK to let your child make some choices on his own, even when you think it’s a bad choice.


The teen years are notoriously challenging for parents. Much like the toddler years, kids sometimes seem intent on doing exactly the opposite of what we ask. And for some of the same reasons: Their integrity would be compromised by simply doing what we ask because we ask it. They need to believe it's the right thing for them.

So discipline as we usually think of it backfires with teens. If you come down like a sledgehammer, you can count on open rebellion. If you crackdown on the rebellion instead of listening to your child's reasons, you can count on your teen becoming a very good liar, and sneaking behind your back.

If you have a strong-willed child, you've already learned from your child's rebelliousness that you can't control your child; you can only help him want to cooperate and foster the emotional control that will help him do so.

Of course, if your child hasn't been rebellious, you may have thought you were in control of your child until now. I have some bad news. You weren't. Maybe your child respected you and wanted to "follow" you, which means you were doing a great job staying connected as a parent-- but your child was still making the choice to do what you asked. 

Or maybe your child was intimidated into doing what you said, which means he was on the compliant side compared to some kids so he made the choice to do what you wanted out of fear. But if he had ever said "You can't make me!" you would have had to resort to ever-stiffer punishments to get him to obey. That may work with compliant kids, but it doesn't work with strong-willed kids. And it doesn't work with teens!


But that doesn't mean you can't guide your teen. If you have a warm, affirming, open relationship in which your teen feels respected and respects you, if you have relied on lots of discussions to guide your child, then you can count on easier teen years. Your child will honour your rules most of the time and will initiate negotiations about the ones that don't work for her. That's because you will remain at the centre of your child's life and she/he won't want to disappoint you. And because you're been empathizing with her/his feelings, your child has developed the ability to regulate her/his emotions, which helps her/his manage her behaviour. Finally, kids who aren't punished, but are instead lovingly guided to make reparations and solve problems, are earlier to develop internal discipline and a strong moral sense--so your teen now has the ability to make the hard choices to do what's right, regardless of what her friends are doing.


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