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When it comes time for your teen to get behind the wheel of the car, it can be a scary time for parents. Driving is a privilege and most teens don't want to lose this one so they tend to obey the rules. Likewise, social events mean the world to them, so make sure that you tie inappropriate and/or unacceptable behavior to the loss of privileges. Consistently following the rules is the path back into the driver's seat and into a busy social life.
Breaking house rules, "forgetting" to turn in homework, losing the house keys or money, and living in a very messy room; these are typical of the challenges associated with ADD. You may threaten consequences that prove to be difficult or impractical to enforce: for example, not using the computer for a month. Since the computer is useful for research, an educational tool has been removed. By connecting responsibility to using the computer, it is easier to limit computer time, say, for doing research for homework, but this time will be monitored for using it for a dedicated purpose.
Some adolescents have a sense of entitlement. They want all the perks and privileges that you can bestow, and little if any of the responsibility that comes with being a contributing member of the family. When a teenager has been obnoxious, lazy, or disrespectful it is OK not to do them special favors. Teens can and do survive such refusals.
Don't be afraid to ask your teen direct questions. Pay attention to
unusual or erratic behavior. Be mindful of your teen's gradual
withdrawal from activities and pay attention to sad moods that don't
lift in a few weeks. If you need to find professional help, check your
health insurance carrier's manual for physicians and therapists in your
area. Ask a friend or your hairdresser for the names of professionals
they may know, or call your family physician for assistance.
Parenting is hard work. Saying "no," enforcing boundaries, and refusing to do special favors for the entitlement minded comes with the territory. Taking away car keys is sometimes necessary. It is hard to hear that you are a bad parent or that you don't understand anything important to your teenager. Connecting responsibility to privileges is a great gift. You are teaching responsibility. So give yourself a break when you lose your cool. Your good intentions are enough and require no defense. Apologize for inappropriate behavior. It sets a good example.
Be observant. Encourage conversation. Set aside time to take your teen to lunch and have a casual chat. It helps to spend some quality time with your teens individually. They can learn a lot from you, and you can learn from them. Even a drive out for a snack or ice cream can do wonders for bonding. Tell you teen every day that you love him or her. They appreciate hearing "I love you."
|Sheri Ann Richerson|