Raising a teen can be overwhelming. This is often the time I hear cries from parents who feel lost and at the end of their rope. Scott Sells gives us 7 reasons for a teens misbehavior in his book “Parenting Your Out of Control Teenager”. This week we will cover Sells 7 reasons with the hopes that you can understand how you can change things in your household and minimize the craziness.
Reason #1: Unclear Rules
There are many “given” rules in life that help us learn cause and effect. For example, wearing coats when it’s cold will keep you warm. If you don’t follow this rule, your natural consequence will be that you are freezing! Also if I don’t follow the rule of treating people kindly, I eventually might be lonely without friends.
Those obvious rules are learned over time either by being told, watching others make mistakes, or by experiencing the pain of breaking the rule and correcting the behavior.
Many parents have rules in their home that are “unclear”. Parents may think they are obvious, but because they have not been spoken, are not followed. Teens are great at finding loopholes to get out of their consequences.
Sells talks about teens having “literal disease”. Meaning they need a full description of what to do or not do in order to follow the rules. If you don’t cover ALL of the do’s and dont’s, then they are off the hook for being in trouble for something they never knew was not ok.
Telling a teen that you expect them to not be disrespectful, but not telling the types of behaviors that are disrespectful, can end with you caught in their loophole. You will hear the words, “But you never said ____ was disrespectful, so I didn’t know.”
Don’t assume that kids know all the “given” rules. Try to be thorough and write out house rules so they have something to reference when they “conveniently” forget the rules and try to trap you in a loophole. This will save you and your household a lot of headaches when your teen catches a case of “literal disease”.
Check back tomorrow as Tamara helps us understand the importance of keeping up with your teen’s thinking. Thanks for reading!
***Adapted from “Parenting Your Out of Control Teenager” by Scott Sells pages 12-13
Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC
Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.