By now those pubescent hormones should be well and truly raging!
Nothing is fair; nobody understands them; and no one’s life is in any way more trying and unfair than their’s is.
It’s during this period of puberty that setting consequences and following through on them becomes even harder for parents.
Gone are the days when your “little helper” was happy to pitch in around the house “like Mama and Papa” or could be pressed into doing things with the last resort, catch-all “Because I said so…” (not that this is a phrase I would ever encourage anyone to use).
That defiant expression of “Yeah, and what are you gonna do about it if I don’t?”, is probably ever present on their faces – if they’ve not yet actually developed the courage to say it out loud to your face!
Now is the time to hold firm.
They’re right. When they whine that “they are no longer children and you can’t treat them as such” however, they are not yet adults and therefore, you can’t let go of the leading strings just yet either.
Balance and reasoning are key – even if you’re the only one that’s thinking in a balanced and reasonable way.
Where possible, discuss issues with them at this age and get them to suggest their own rewards and consequences so that they well and truly buy into the whole concept and can’t argue at the “unfairness” of it all – they’re the ones who suggested and agreed to them after all!
This doesn’t mean you can’t “guide” their suggestions with a few choice consequences and rewards of your own.
Potential Consequences (Age 14-17)
- Loss of TV Privileges (Don’t be arbitrary. Keep it specific time limit and schedule.)
- Loss of Video Games (Again, keep it specific)
- Loss of Computer Time (Ditto above)
- Loss of Internet Access
- Loss of PSP/XBox Controls/iPod or Mobile Telephone
- Imposing an Earlier Curfew
- Loss of Mama/Papa Taxi Priviledges
- Doing Additional Chores
- Loss of Time Alone with Friends
Potential Rewards (Age 14-17)
- Extra TV, Video, Computer Game Time
- Time off From Regular Chores
- Staying Out Late
- Additional Time on the Internet
- Additional Time Alone with Friends
- Mama/Papa Taxi Priviledges
- Daily/Weekly Bonus Rewards
- Someone Else Does Their Chores for Them
Ideas for Daily/Weekly Bonus Rewards
- Voucher for Manicure or Trip to the Hairdressers (Even having it dyed if you’re brave enough)
- Having Sleep Overs with Friends
- Activity with Parent or Friend (i.e., Swimming, Bowling, Climbing, Fishing, Hitting the Beach)
- Choice of Take Out Meal or Special Meal Out
- Choosing Something from the “Reward Box” (You can pre-fill this with “Voucher Notes” for Gift Cards at a Favourite Clothes Store or Fast Food Outlet, Nail Polish or Make-Up, Phone Top-Up Cards, Movie Tickets, whatever your kids are into really!)
- Monetary Contribution towards something they are saving for.
However big they look and however much attitude they give you, rules should still remain rules. Even adults have rules they need to abide by – many of which don’t appear fair either on occasion but that’s the nature of rules; they need to be good for the whole not necessarily just the individual. Your child is still an “adult in training” and now is the ideal time to build up their negotiating life skills by discussing, negotiating and setting relevant consequences and rewards together. This should have the knock-on effect off brushing up your own negotiating skills too!
If you’d like to learn more about how to set kids age appropriate consequences and seeing them through, I’m writing a book that teaches exactly that, along with many practical ways parents can teach their kids the essential, everyday life skills they’ll need to grow into responsible adults. Sign up below to hear more about the book and get a discount when it’s released.