Having over two decades of experience as a family therapist, our guest today on LATALK Radio's, Parent Choices for Struggling Teens was Jay Fitter, MFT. In addition to his practice, Jay has just released his new book, Respect Your Children, A Practical Guide to Effective Parenting. With school back in full swing, Jay shared with Lon and his audience some important topics parents need to stay on top of and talk with their tween or teen, that will help them both academically and socially.
Clothing trends, come and go with kids…but parents need to be aware of the styles their kids are wearing. Often certain colors are gang related in addition to how the clothes are worn specifically. Are they wearing clothing that is offensive or not appropriate to the values of your family? If so, speak with them honestly about it and let them know your concerns. Being mixed up in the "wrong crowd" can have lasting consequences for your child. Is your child wearing long sleeves in the heat of summer? Be aware and involved in why they are doing so…often teens who cut on themselves will hide the cuts with sleeves.
Jay spoke about academics and how to get your child invested in such. To explain that missing homework and doing poorly in school can have an impact for their entire lives. Teens can be shut out of many career options by the choices they make in high school. Colleges look for grades and look very closely at their high school transcripts. Sit with them and ask them about their goals for the future and how their coursework can fit in with those goals. The topic of boyfriends and girlfriends was discussed and Jay suggested that parents find out what kind of clubs, sports teams or other extracurricular activities are available at their school and to encourage their kids to sign up for at least one of these options. It helps with their resume for college and more importantly, keeps them socializing with "like-minded" kids.
The last two issues that are essential for parents to discuss with their teens and tweens are peer pressure and rules and expectations. For teens, peers are more like a second family to them and they may push them to participate in doing things that they really don't want to be a part of, drinking, drugs, cheating on tests or bullying someone. Talk with your kids about peer pressure and help them prepare a strategy or plan they can use to get out of an uncomfortable situation. These tough choices can have an impact on them for decades to come. As a parent you must also be consistent with rules and boundaries for your kids, in addition to having well-thought out plans for consequences if your child breaks these rules. Rather than doling out punishments that are based on anger, frustrations and overly reacting…discipline is a goal oriented issue to deal with the behavior, that is well thought out and that both parents are on the same page in dealing with the consequences for the breaking the rules. "Treat your child in such a way that they are important to you, teach and give out of respect."
Lon Woodbury is the owner/founder of Woodbury Reports, Inc. and www.strugglingteens.com. He has worked with families and struggling teens since 1984 and is the host of Parent Choices for Struggling Teens and The Woodbury Reports.
Jay Fitter, MFT, is a licensed marriage and family counselor in Orange County, CA. He is a popular workshop leader and speaker and has a new book he has authored Respect Your Children A Practical Guide to Effective Parenting.
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