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​​​Disciplining Teens Issue1234

Creating ​​Rewards for Effective Discipline

Scarcity drives value. This fundamental principle is the lynchpin of our entire economic system. You can see ​it at work everywhere, from the price of gold to the price of milk. The brilliant thing is this same principle can be adapted to develop a series of rewards that will give your teen the incentive to follow the rules.

What do teens want? Well, broadly speaking, they want more freedom. Freedom to come and go when and how they please. Freedom to enjoy the latest electronic games and gadgets. Freedom to text and chat with their friends.

All these privileges have one thing in common: you. As a parent or guardian of a teen, you are the one who holds the key to all of these. As such, you are in the position to dole out these privileges as rewards for your teen's good behavior.

The best part of these prized privileges? They're free!

You don't have to bribe your teen with money or promise to buy him or her a new video game or pair of jeans. You simply create a batch of rewards that can be given out whenever your teen earns them.

Your son brings home an impressive report card? Maybe he gets to stay out an extra half hour every night next week. Your daughter cleans her room without prompting? Maybe she gets an extra half hour of chat time with her friends after supper.

You needn't stop there. Survey your home for other things your teen desires - TV time, sleeping in late on weekend mornings, etc. - the only limit is your imagination.

And, as we have mentioned before, it's important to "catch your teen being good." That means, you shouldn't just give out expected rewards for expected achievements (e.g. your son knows if he passes his calculus test, he'll get an extra half hour of video game time); you should also give out unexpected rewards. For instance, your daughter took her little sister to the park, giving you some much-needed downtime. You could say, "You know, I really appreciated you taking your sister to the park the other day. Tonight, instead of helping with dishes, you can FaceTime with your friends for half an hour."

It should be mentioned, of course, that while we're talking about rewards here, you are also in the position to take away privileges as consequences for negative behavior. Meaning that if your son bombs the aforementioned calculus test, not only does he lose that half hour of gaming time, he also loses his video game privileges for a week.

The bottom line is you are in charge and hold the key to the freedoms and privileges teens cherish most.

Teaching Activity

Develop a Rewards System

This time, the activity is pretty obvious: set up a system of rewards for your teen. First, think really hard about what your teen wants most. What does he or she constantly ask for or complain about not having? Then figure out a way to chop these rewards into easily doled out bits (using increments of time works well). Then call a family meeting to let everyone know that this is going to be the way of things for the future. It helps, too, if you have a list of rules already made up. As with most people, teens do much better if they know what's expected of them.

Social Skills

Staying on Task

In order to earn the rewards mentioned earlier in this email, your teen needs to abide by your rules and accomplish the things he or she has been asked to accomplish. One important way to improve the odds this will happen is if your teen learns how to stay on task by using the following skill steps:

  • Look - at your task or assignment.
  • Think - about the steps needed to complete the task.
  • Focus - all of your attention on your task.
  • Stop - working on your task only with permission from the adult who gave you the task.
  • Ignore - distractions and interruptions by others.

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