A normal part of adolescent development is the shift from thinking in a very concrete manner to being able to think abstractly. Because there is significant development going on in the adolescent brain, it is a critical time to help shape behavior patterns and overall brain wiring. This change in thinking is one of the reasons why parents begin to notice that their teenagers start to question or resist things that were never questioned by them before.
Consultant Parents ask questions and offer choices to their teenagers whenever possible. The goal is to have teens engage in the decision-making process when possible and in a safe manner so that they can learn and build upon decision-making skills. Parents who are in a consultant role use “I” statements instead of “You” statements. For example, “I am wondering what you would think would be a reasonable curfew on a school night when there is an exam tomorrow” instead of “You will stay in and study since you are not getting good enough grades”. In addition to using “I” statements, consultants ask a lot of questions (not accusatory questions but rather curious questions) which foster thinking more than lectures will ever do.
Consultant Parents hold their teenagers accountable to the consequences of their decisions. Whether positive or negative, it is critical that teenagers experience the consequences of their decision-making. This is an important life lesson that they will need as they transition into adulthood. Despite wanting to, it is important that as a parent, you do not “rescue’ your teen from the more difficult consequences of poor decision-making. If you do this, they will never learn and will expect this to occur for the res of their lives.
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