Friday, April 24, 2009

Teaching Teens to Solve Their Own Problem

First let me say that I know this is VERY hard to do!

  • It's hard on "helicopter" parents who show their love by doing everything for their child.
  • It's hard on "drill sergeant" parents who tell their children what to do and when to show their love.

It is hard to let go, stop doing things for our children, or give up control... BUT in a few short years they have to be able to function on their own. Why not let them practice now while the consequences are relatively small.

Here are some examples of what I mean:

Situation: Student stays up late to complete a paper he left to the last minute.

The Helicopter Parent

Student: Mom, I stayed up late to finish a paper last night. Can you call the school and tell them I'm sick so I can sleep in?

Mom: Sure honey. You do need your sleep. Do you want me to run the paper into school for you? Should I take an early lunch at work and drive you to school? Do you want me to call your teacher?

The Drill Sergeant Parent

Student: Mom I stayed up late to finish a paper last night. Can you call the school and tell them I'm sick so I can sleep in?

Mom: Heck no! Get your butt out of bed. I don't care how tired you are. No one in this family is going to be a slacker! (Followed by a 15 minute lecture about planning ahead and not leaving things to the last minute.)

The Consultant Parent

Student: Mom I stayed up late to finish a paer last night

Mom: (Leading with sincere empathy) Oh Man! I bet you're exhausted.

Student. I am. Will you call me in sick so I can sleep in?

Mom: Nice try. I have this personal rule against lying to the school but I can see why you'd want to sleep in. What are you going to do about this? (Note how she doesn't tell her child what he should do. She says what she will do and hands the problem back to the person who owns it.)

Student: I don't know. I have 14 tardies already. If I get one more I'll get a half day Saturday detention.

Mom: (Leadng with empathy again!) That would be the pitts! Would you like to know what some other kids have done in this situation?

Student: What?! (Grumbling tone)

Mom: Some kids were really so tired they stayed home and took the Saturday detention. Other kids just toughed it out and made it through the day and then crashed when they got home. Some kids tough it our but try to eat a really good breakfast with protein so they have some extra fuel to run on.

Student: Some kids have parents who will call them in sick!

Mom: Yeah I know. You don't have one of those. Let me know what you decide.

(Note: Mom does not ask which one the child will decide. The student who made decision to procrastinate also needs to solve the other rest of the problem. They need to live with the natural consequences of their actions.)

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