As promised, a few tips about dealing with teens who take dangerous risks.
Reality check; Parents do not have the control the experts want you to think you have. Not even the police can stop all risky behavior. I picked this picture becauase it reminded me of the dangerous water-filled quarry, the kids in our neighborhood all loved to swim in.
It was fenced in, posted with no trespassing signs, but kids would rather swim there than their parents’ pools or at nearby Long Island Sound. Increased police surveillance only added to the adventure. The kids always figure out when they could swim and dive into the boulder-filled pool without being hassled by the cops.
Scary, still there are a few things you can do.
PARENTING tips To REDuce RISK taking
Tip one: Do read yesterday’s post about how it is best to start early to safety proof your kids. A number of the tips can still be implemented.
Tip two: Convene a family meeting, Don’t do family meetings? No time like the present to start. And yes, here is a plug for my eBook about How to Hold a Successful Family Meeting.
Just can’t take that on now? Understood. Nevertheless you need to have a meeting and talk calmly with your kid about your concerns. Use the following guidelines
You are meeting to discuss safety and nothing else. You want the child to hear your concerns and take them seriously. S/he will be in charge of calming your concerns. If that is done, no further meetings will be necessary.
Here are the suggested meeting rules. Each of you speaks in turn and speaks briefly. Three minutes is the suggested time for having your say, no interrupting, you listen to each other, you respect each other.
Start by stating you are worried, and give one specific example of why your are worried. One example, don’t ask questions, just state the example and then say “Your turn.” Whatever the kid’s response say, “Thank you and go to your next example.” Continue this way until you have aired your concerns. End the meeting saying, “It is up to you to calm my fears, do that or the next meeting will be about consequences.”
Why not get on with the consequences at this meeting? You are putting the ball in your kid’s court. If you have to impose consequences, the kid has earned them.
Tip three: Consequences that work with teens are not easy to come up with. Grounding only seems to work when a Good Kid wants you to pull in the reins. Other options are loss of privileges particularly allowance, cell phones, all phone privileges and finally, the right to drive.
A consequence most family do not think of is a mental health evaluation and family counseling, but these needs to be on your list. Moreover, if the risk taking involves illegal activities you are an accessory if you permit such behavior. In that case the result needs to be involving a lawyer and following his or her advice.
Tip four: You need to adjust the above to the seriousness of your child’s risk taking behavior. If you kid is getting hurt at the rate of requiring medical intervention monthly, or has been stopped for speeding more than once, you need outside help. Get it. Talk to your family doctor, the school social worker, your religious advisor, a lawyer, a therapist, or the local youth officer.
Tip five: Get the free down load of my book When Good Kids Take Risks. It discusses these issues more thoroughly and is available until midnight June 11th. See the side bar.
More kids than not survive the teen years. The few risk takers – adults and kids that don’t survive are the stuff of headlines. The fact is most risk-takers learn from lesser hurts than the ones in the headlines.
Thank you for caring, sharing, and all the other things you do to make your corner of the world better.
The first: Although built upon evidenced based practices, there is no guarantee my advice is the right advice for you and your family. Experiment, try my tips; if they are not useful to you try another parent adviser. You are the expert on you and your child; the rest of us experts on many different things.
The second: I have dysgraphia, a learning disability that peppers my writing with mis-spelling and punctuation errors. All my books are professionally edited. Not so my blog posts. Although I use all the grammar and spelling checks, mistakes slip by. If they bother you, seek another source of support for life’s less savory moments. Life is too short to let problems you can avoid annoy or stress you.