How to Spiritually Wrestle a Rebel Teenager (And Win)!
It’s “back to school” season again, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who struggles to get their kids to do their jobs, or get things done. Whether it’s homework, getting to sleep on time, or helping out around the house, the more time spent in arguments and frustration, the more spirits dampen, hearts get heavy and relationships become strained.
There’s only so long you can cash in on the “Because I said so!” trick and expect it to work with your kids. After a certain age, the fact that you are older or taller or stronger doesn’t really give you an unfair advantage anymore. As they become stronger, bigger, older themselves, the only way to make life work and get things done is with dialogue and patience in communication. The best way to win the willing compliance and cooperation of people you lead or are responsible for is by honestly earning their trust and admiration.
There’s Only So Long Muscle Cuts the Mustard
In the early years of parenting, it’s much easier to use might and size as the key factors of your seniority and the primary negotiating tools when getting your kids to do things. “Because I said so!” is the defacto phrase that ends most arguments as long as kids are too small to do anything about it. But the sooner you wean yourself from that trick, the better.
Because one day, might and size may not be in your favour, and when that day comes, you will need a much stronger, much more powerful bargaining chip on the table–your child’s trust, admiration and respect.
Tools that work best for parenting are as true in business as they are in any sphere of life where you are working with, responsible for, or trying to lead other people. You need to earn the willingness and desire of your children to be a part of your team–to contribute meaningfully to you and the environment you share. When you have honestly won that, then all you need is the presence of mind and patience to have a few clear conversations about what is honestly needed and wanted of both sides. Then you’ve got to get busy enforcing and continuing to enforce what was agreed upon.
I wanted to share the tools we’re using in our family right now with my rebel 15-year old. Some of the agreements behind this came in slowly over time. Depending on where you’re at in your relationship and parenting, you may need to have a few conversations to get to this place.
What’s most important to understand is that by helping our children see the consequences of their choices on their own well-being, confidence, moods and overall happiness in life, they will come to agree about how much sleep, participation, and contribution really is necessary. They’ll be able to agree to live by these rules, not “because you said so,” but because they have proven to be true and they work!
Inspiration By Example Wins in the Long Run
It’s easy to feel frustrated with some of the things our children fail to do, and throw our hands in the air or huff and puff about what hasn’t been done. A quick glance at your own unconquered checklist of things to do might humble you a little and help you bite your tongue. Sometimes it can be helpful before you criticize, complain or correct anyone to check in with your own to do list first. Not because it will “get them off the hook,” but because sometimes the things that “bug” or annoy us most are things we’re not doing ourselves!
And a bit of validation for what’s going well tends to inspire a lot more production and contribution that repeatedly being corrected or told what you’re doing wrong.
Having a little checklist like the one I’m about to share with you in the video below isn’t put in place because people aren’t capable or able to do things, but because by putting all these things down in one place you can free up your attention for other, better things. Keeping a list of what needs to get done, just reduces the amount of tied up attention that gets stuck trying to track and remember everything you’re supposed to be responsible for.
I’m going to be creating a version of this for me eventually, with all my personal and professional targets to handle, but in the meantime, here’s what I think you can get out of this video:
- How do you reduce the amount of time spent on arguing and “negotiating” when it’s time to get things done. (go to bed, clean, etc.)
- What the most important thing to put in place to make sure your kids are motivated to produce and contribute?
- How I get my 15 year old to bed at 8:30 (without a battle)!
- The most important things to prioritize to reduce conflict and arguing.
- The little trick you can do with your kids to help them see for themselves why certain rules should be in place (this will take a little time, but save you WAY more time in arguing if you do it!)
- THE most important lesson I’ve learned in parenting that will save you LOADS of frustration and wasted time. (And I didn’t learn it until about 8 months ago, and stumbled on it by LUCK in an article!)
- The trick to taking frustration out of parenting. If you do this one little thing, it can completely eliminate your worry about whether or not things are getting better, and help you see
- The most powerful bargaining chip you can ever have as a parent. And the best way to get.
- Why the “Because I said so” argument for getting kids to do things will not last long, and what to use instead!
(For links to download examples of the documents, please visit the comments section in the Youtube video!)
Freedom That Isn’t Earned, Doesn’t Feel Very Free
Freedoms should be earned through contribution and good exchange. This is true for everyone in life. You work hard to make money to buy the things and experiences that bring you a sense of freedom and help you to achieve goals and acquire things you want in life. And your kids should honestly have produced and contributed in order to be given freedoms and privileges, too.
Using some of these basic tools and foundation principles for how you parent, you can help your kids see for themselves that life goes better when you are contributing meaningfully and taking responsibility for the lives around you. The more they put these principles in place, and see the results in their own lives, the more driven and self-motivated they will become to get in the game and make life go right.
A little, “How do you feel?” at the end of a hard working day invites reflection and observation. Then ask the same question after they’ve binged on Netflix all weekend, and watch what happens. 😉
When Order Goes In, Chaos Comes Out
It can be proven in all matters of human relations and personal conduct that when order goes in, chaos comes out.
The only problems you’ll encounter as you put this in place are temporarily ruffled feathers and an emotional tornado of protest. But don’t give up easily. No one who was ever let to “get away with” being lazy, unproductive, unethical or dishonest was done any favours. Production and contribution are the basis of good morale. Your sense of “self-worth” truly is determined by how valuable you believe you are to others and to life around you.
Oh sure, it’s easy to surf the web and eat Doritos all day, but as a parent, the biggest reason to put these tools in, isn’t to make sure your counters are clean and that the laundry gets done, it’s to help your children see and realize from their own experience, that the road to happiness is paved with a little sweat, dirty fingernails, hard work and hustle.
As long as you’re not afraid of feelings, and willing to enforce persistently and with kindness, then this tool can be extremely valuable to you! Remember, as you put order in, chaos will come out. Stand tall, strong, stable and committed to the quality of life you want for yourself, and hope to inspire in your children.
One thing at a time, stiffen discipline as you go, and you’ll have a cleaner house, a happier home and more confident children who trust themselves and are engaged in the creation of their own bright futures.