Principles in raising an adolescent

Published 5:19 pm Saturday, January 4, 2014

QUESTION: We are entering the uncharted territory of adolescence in our family. What do those with experience say are the most important things to know and do?

 ANSWER: Here are 10 principles, paraphrased from substance abuse prevention specialist Dr. Dana Farnsworth, to help parents and teachers successfully navigate through the adolescent years:

Listen to them: Nothing so exasperates adolescents as failure or inability to examine their point of view. Speak with them and not just to them.

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Be consistant: At any age, and particularly in adolescence, children need to know what they can get away with and what they cannot — and they should know why.

Trust them: They may not always deserve it, but they will more quickly become responsible if trusted than if constantly watched or suspected of mischief.

Give them the facts: Even with the most highly charged issues (perhaps especially in such circumstances), there is no excuse for ignorance.

Exhibit standards of taste and behavior at which you would like them to excel: However, do not demand agreement from them.

Maintain firm and friendly discipline: It is possible to provide correction while remaining calm.

Set limits and enforce them: Never make a promise you cannot keep or a threat you cannot enforce. Standards should be enforced flexibly and fairly, not rigidly and without reference to the immediate circumstances.

Avoid setting group against group: The conflict should be between good ideas and inferior ones. The question is not who is right, but what is right.

Train them for independence in every possible way: Your role is now much like a coach on the sidelines of the game. There is a time for instruction, but ultimately our adolescents are on the field without us.

Remember your own feelings during adolescence: Adolescents appreciate being treated as separate individuals rather than as extensions of their parents.