It is important to train yourself for when your child’s behavior takes a serious turn for the worse. Hoping that your teen will never get into some serious trouble is not seeing the world as it is, and is not preparing yourself for the challenge for if and when it happens. What is the saying, “I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.”
If you train yourself for the “worst”, then more than likely the “worst” wont be that bad. If you do not train yourself for the “worst”, then you will most likely find yourself without a paddle.
Think about training like a firefighter. Firefighters train by staying physically fit and by practicing their firefighting skills on training days. Firefighters also do another form of training when on routine calls. They improve their response time and their on scene time. All of those training days and routine calls prepare firefighters for that five alarm fire that may never come. So must you train and prepare yourself for that “worst case scenario” with your teen.
So what can you do to train yourself? What can you do to prepare? Well first you want to train like a firefighter. You want to practice skills on training days and you want to practice using those skills on “routine” behavior problems with your teen. But what skills should you practice?
Staying calm is one. Breathing is another. Addressing your child’s behavior, rather than your child is another. Focus on the external issue, that is the situation at hand. Do not focus on your internal feelings, that will only make you angry. But the best thing to do is to first think of what, in your mind, would be the biggest challenge you could face with your child. What would be that worst case scenario? Second, brainstorm how you would like to ideally act in that situation. Then write it down step-by-step.
Once you’ve done that role play with your spouse or with a friend. Have them play your teen who has just been caught drinking on school property and you play yourself. Practice acting step-by-step how you want to ideally act in that situation. Then reverse the roles. You play your teen and your spouse or friend plays the parent role. Once you get the hang of it, practice the same steps with your child the next time he speaks back to you or doesn’t take out the trash when he is supposed too.
The more you practice the better you will get. Remember you are not trying to be perfect. Progress not perfection is what you are looking for.
So what you should do right now, before you do anything and before you forget, is write down what the “worst case scenario” is for you. Then write down how you would ideally act step-by-step.
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