In other posts I’ve admitted to being a loving despot in my home. I expected manners. I expected respect. And, I got it. We had a great deal of fun because my children knew exactly what was acceptable and so there were very few points of contention. (Read about that here). If you are dealing with older kids who haven’t learned this from a young age, here are a few pointers:
Realize that you are at fault, not your child
You are the adult and have been sloppy and inconsistent. Take responsibility for this. Sit down with your spouse and draw up a list of expectations for yourself and your children. Then figure out what the consequences will be if expectations are not met. You need to find what is most impactful for each child. For some it is money, so a substantial fine would get their attention. For the social child, it would be the curtailment of a favorite activity with friends. For others it would be missing a sporting event or planned family activity.
I would actually suggest drawing up a contract that everyone signs. You can’t just start screaming at kids for things you’ve let slide for a long time. Things need to be explained in a calm atmosphere so they understand what is expected.
Have a Family Meeting
Once parents are on the same page, call a family meeting to explain the changes that are going to happen. Calmly admit that you have been wrong in allowing certain behavior and that to permit them to continue will impact their future in a negative way. Because you love them, you are correcting your mistake now. Outline the changes you expect in attitudes and the consequences if the new contract is not honored.
Have specific consequences for specific behavior. If they roll their eyes at you and say “whatever” you smilingly take their $25. If they watch television for 4 hours and don’t get homework done, the fun activity they were looking forward to is erased from the calendar and they get to clean the garage instead.
The toughest part of all this is your consistency. We get busy. We get tired. And, our kids get away with murder. Remember that it takes 21 days to change a habit and this is no exception. You have to be patiently watching and correcting for about a month before you will see a real change.
You also need to have a system of rewards in the contract – tiny ones as your child makes changes and possibly big ones when the problem has been erased.
Change the environment
Many attitudes are caught from other kids. In order to help your kids be successful, you may need to alter their environment. To be honest, we stayed away from youth group at church, youth Sunday school, many homeschool activities, and other collections of teen drama and attitude. If we started a new activity and I noticed a slide in attitude, my kids got a chance to improve. But, the activity was dropped if it infected them in a negative way. For this reason, my kids spent most of their time with adults and therefore acted like adults. Eventually they were the shapers of attitude among their friends, not sponges who soaked up whatever was around them.
Look Who’s Talking!
Thank you so much for all your help in my college admissions process. You constantly gave me direct guidance and constructive feedback. Through your advice, I was able to give colleges a better profile of who I am. After countless emails, essay revisions, and questions I feel that my applications presented the best of what I have done. I am very happy to let you know that I will be studying mechanical engineering at MIT this fall. This year has been great and I am excited for what is to come. Thank you again for all the time you have put into my life. ~ Hannah, California
Are you on our VIP List? If you would like to receive our newsletter, be the first to be notified of sales and new classes, and get special updates, click here!