Effective Discipline for Teens – MBFLP 261

 

A reader writes, “I need suggestions how to discipline my 14-year-old son.” She’s finding out what we all discover – if you try to discipline your 14-year-old like he was still six, you’re likely to have a fight on your hands! So what do you do with this young person who’s growing so tall, but still needs a lot of guidance and discipleship?

It’s more than behavior management

With younger kids, a great deal of our training is behavior – “Don’t tease the cat,” “Don’t touch the stove,” “Stop hitting your brother!” Tedd Tripp points out that Ephesians 6:1 is fundamental for the younger set: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

And external behavior is important – that’s what hurts others and damages things! But as they move into the early teen years, our children need more coaching and discipleship to reach their deepest need – the condition of their heart. They need to be confronted with Right and Wrong in a larger sense than, “Honor your father and your mother.” When they realize their failing and sin, they are more likely to grasp their need for a Savior!

And when we recognize that their behavior is more than “You’re on my nerves!” but something rooted on their human fallenness … maybe we can be a little more compassionate and not as quick to react.

As they change, we should too

A lot of parent-teen relationships are strained or broken because parents don’t adapt to their young person’s changes. When they reach adolescence, they’re not kids any more! We need to understand they aren’t the little ones we’ve raised so far, but young adults-in-training. We can’t just continue the old discipline models and expect the same response. Appropriate correction for a four-year-old is humiliating, at best, to a 14-year-old.

More and more, we need to move our discipline to adult responses. What does that look like?

Well, consider what happens when we make a mistake or cause an offense as an adult. Are we sent to stand with our nose in the corner until we say we’re sorry? Does our boss or pastor or neighbor give us a sharp swat on the hand? Of course not. Instead, we are likely to experience “natural consequences.”

Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operetta The Mikado includes the chorus, “Let the punishment fit the crime!” Humor aside, that’s actually quite Biblical. Over and over again in Scripture, you see principles of repentance followed by restitution. We use this as a guide with our teens – if you break it, you fix it – whether it’s a broken toy or a damaged relationship. It’s a hard lesson, but we impress on them that being an adult sometimes means we accept responsibility for things that aren’t strictly our fault. Maybe something happened by accident, or someone took offense by misunderstanding – we still need to step up and try to make things right.

Occasionally the problem isn’t actual sin but rather just high spirits or too much energy. Maybe they really are on your nerves, and that’s most of the problem!

How did Coach handle it?

Sometimes the best correction is just to work it off. How did your high school coach handle it if you were goofing off during practice? What did your drill instructor do at boot camp if you weren’t putting your back into the job?

A bit of strenuous exertion can be a lifesaver here! “Drop and give me ten!” – a call for some push-ups is a good manly punishment for a minor but irritating infraction. You can have them run up and down the stairs, or laps around the back yard. Ask Dad for advice, since he’s probably received similar correction in his time! It’s not offensive or demeaning, but it can use up some energy and help your son focus again.

It’s not supposed to be easy or fun. Hebrews 12:11 says,

Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

 

(continue …)

The most important part

But the most critical thing to remember is the foundation you’re laying for the long term. What sort of relationship are you building with your teenager?

Our relationship with God is more than just crime-and-punishment – that’s part of it and unavoidable, but it’s not the full relationship. If that’s all we know of our heavenly Father, there’s a lot that’s missing!

Likewise with our kids. Of course we’ll have times of conflict or confrontation, but the question will remain – what sort of relationship do we have now, and what sort are we building for tomorrow? … Tune in for practical applications! 

 

Middle Schoolers Online – MBFLP 209

Should your middle schooler be online?
When’s the right time to get your middle schoolers online? Researcher Jean Twenge (iGen) says that people born since 1995–that’s the class just starting to graduate from college, and their younger siblings–have basically grown up with round-the-clock Internet access. It’s not healthy, and it’s causing some specific, traceable problems … and yet, the world our kids are graduating into demands computer literacy … and expects to find a current social media footprint. How can we both protect our younger kids and prepare them for the real world just a few years ahead? This episode, we’ll start the conversation on middle schoolers and the online world …

 

Should your middle schooler be online?

Some Announcements … We are still celebrating the release of our new book, No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope … and we are getting some fantastic first-reader reviews! CLICK HERE to see a sample … or to order your own copy.  Background information: This week’s episode is in response to several of those reviews!

We’re scheduling upcoming events … We’ve recently finished agreements for events in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Florida … and we have plans to be in Maryland for a private event, soon, too. CLICK HERE to see our newest plans … and if you’d like to have us speak at your church, retreat, conference, or other event, VISIT OUR SPEAKING EVENT WEBSITE HERE.

Big HELLO to our new listeners on iHeartRadio! Be sure to come here to check out the show notes and links we mention on the air …


So what about middle schoolers and time online?

Dr. Twenge says that studies indicate the average high school senior now spends six hours per day online – including two and a quarter hours in text messaging, alone. Where is this time coming from? She shows that it comes from less time in homework, less time in extracurricular activities, less time working after-school jobs, and much less time just hanging out with friends “in real life.” This is undermining their social and emotional developments in many ways that explain the alarm and hysteria coming from college campuses these days!

There is also some correlation with the rise in teenage mental illness, including self-harming behaviors, and obsessive use of social media.

So it should be obvious that we don’t want to drop our pre-teens into that mix when they are in their most uprooted, emotional, hormonal, and generally unstable time of life. It wouldn’t be wise, it wouldn’t be prudent, and it simply wouldn’t be kind.

Instead, let’s hold off on social media for young people until they’re back on an even emotional keel – maybe 15 or 16. At that point, we recommend starting them off with lots of supervision and advice. Why? Because like it or not, social media has replaced the front porch and casual relationships in church, neighborhood, and community for establishing a basic public reputation. It’s expected. That means we need to coach our young people in appropriate online behavior, just like our parents wager beat casino review or grandparents coached us–what’s appropriate and how we should act where the neighbors can hear or the community can see.

What about other uses of the net?

We need to recognize that the old “electronic babysitter,” the television of our youth, has been supplemented or replaced by Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and the rest. Screen time is still screen time, with all its differences and similarities. Is there a place for simple entertainment use? Yes, and sometimes you need that “babysitter” – to calm an anxious child quiet in the doctor’s waiting room, or maybe to keep fidgety kids in their seats on long car trips. But let’s be honest about it and recognize it for what it is–don’t just drift into habits we’ll regret.

Meanwhile, think about boundaries and limitations you need to establish, and put them in place early. You’ll get a lot less pushback and complaining if your pre-teens have grown up knowing these boundaries, like accountability software, supervision, and time limits. They’re good guardrails to have, no matter what age you start–just realize it’s easier the earlier you get them in place.

Want to know more about middle schoolers and wisdom in technology use? Check out chapter 7, “Media, Gaming, and Discernment,” in our new book, No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope.

Middle School Q & A – MBFLP 208

Real life Q and A from parents like you with middle schoolers

Nobody told us what to expect … babies and toddlers we read about, and people warned us in hushed tones about the dreadful teen years, but nobody told us, “Just wait till they’re in middle school!” This week on Facebook Live we took questions from parents of pre-teens, asking them “What are you having struggles with?” That’s the meat of this week’s podcast – real live Q&A about dealing with the challenges of tweens!

Real life Q and A from parents like you with middle schoolers

Whether you call them pre-teens, tweens, middle-schoolers, or something else, your child will go through a transitional period between “clearly a little kid” to “definitely a teenager.” That catches most of us by surprise. Why is that? Probably because we’re anticipating the physical changes – his voice cracks, she starts her cycle, he’s got a proud new whisker, she is starting to get a figure. Before those outward changes appear, there’s a tidal wave of hormones that start the body’s transformation, and those hormones cause all sorts of effects in their thinking, their emotions, and even their spiritual lives.

What’s more important, our families stumble into a relationship minefield at this point. If we don’t recognize what’s happening and handle it right, we can end up with strained, bent, or broken relationships with our pre-teens.

But it’s also an opportunity. If we can come alongside our sons and daughters during this time and give them understanding, guidance, and encouragement – as well as discipleship and discipline when needed – we can lay foundations for a great relationship during the exciting years ahead!

Questions we addressed … 

7:21 – They’re so addleheaded in school
11:21 – Highly emotional but lacking in perspective
13:03 – They make wild assertions with no basis in reality
14:16 – The personal challenge of discipleship
14:56 – How to manage a changing school situation
17:37 – What about transitioning to adulthood – even with special needs
20:32 – Suddenly, there’s social anxiety
23:36 – He’s struggling in school and hates it
26:35 – A normally friendly boy growing quiet and withdrawn
28:01 – Tips for overcoming shyness

Resources we recommended …

Our new book, No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope

Read reviews here

Dianne Craft’s Brain Integration Therapy Manual

Our growing selection of classic, character-building audiobooks

MBFLP 117 – Teen Romance: This Could Get Serious

MBFLP - Teen Romance

 

What do you when you find your teenager (or even your pre-teen) has romantic feelings for another young person? How to you address this Biblically? In spite of what some teachers say, the answer is not cut-and-dried, and a lot of parents (and their kids) struggle with it. This episode, we dive in to try and find what the Bible does say and what it doesn’t … but more urgently, what do we do about it?

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

01:05 – Romance is an issue sooner than you may think
03:20 – Parenting needs to change as our teens transition toward adulthood
04:18 – The critical thing to remember about older teens
05:04 – Take them seriously!
08:17 – Rules don’t control the heart
09:26 – What the Bible says about romance
11:24 – What the Bible IS clear about
12:10 – Don’t underestimate friendship
15:22 – How this conversation might begin
17:32 – Keeping realistic and balanced expectations
22:18 – Building a relationship of trust and respect early
23:56 – God’s plan for your child may surprise you – and your child, too