8 steps to understanding your teen

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

In his book, Dr. Myers offers eight steps to guide parents and teens into healthier relationships and better understanding of one another.

  1. Choose your battles and win the battles you choose. Parents will be exhausted if they invest the same level of effort in fighting every problem. But once they decide a battle is worth fighting, they can't afford to lose.
  2. Give your child a reason to change his/her behavior. Children who are not internally motivated to do the right thing, make the right choices and always do their very best need parents to provide them with incentives to make a change for the better.
  3. Bad choices must result in bad consequences. Parents must be sure that their defiant child always suffers negative consequences for negative behaviors. The natural connection between choices and consequences affects every area of life. Examples of these types of connections include not studying and failing a test, doing a poor job and getting reprimanded at work, or eating too many donuts and gaining weight. Choices and resulting consequences help people identify between right and wrong.
  4. Make your word your bond. Follow-through is crucial when dealing with a defiant child. Parents must say what they mean and mean what they say.
  5. Remember that parenting is not about you. Parenting decisions and discipline choices should not be centered on the parents' desires and how they feel, but on how they are being used to mold and shape their kids into responsible adults.
  6. Recognize yelling as a sign of weakness. Parents may think that yelling is taking control of a situation and demonstrating their authority, but their lack of restraint actually demonstrates loss of control and emotional weakness.
  7. Present a united front with your spouse. To counteract a defiant teen's tactic of "divide and conquer," parents must be on the same page and must be working in the same direction.
  8. Don't be your kid's friend be his/her parent. Trying to "buddy up" with a defiant teen can damage a parent's current and future relationship with a child. A child needs parents to set boundaries, enforce rules and make tough decisions.

After 25 years in ministry and counseling to parents and teens, Dr. Myers wrote Toe to Toe With Your Teen to help parents who may feel that they are at the end of their rope. He gives proven strategies for ending unruly behavior based on biblical principles and shares stories of parents that have found the right tools to help their children grow into mature and healthy adults.