In today’s world where we tend to focus on success and money, mistakes are frowned on. This attitude has been past on to our teenagers. Some parents don’t expect their teens to make a mistake or fail at something. If their teen does make a mistake, the consequences can be severe.
Teenagers are very aware of the pressure on them to succeed and never make a mistake. Many teens who make mistakes are terrified of telling their parents because they fear their reaction. Some teens even consider suicide if they failed a test at school. Teens feel this pressure because parents arrange for tutors so they will get good grades. Also parents are sending their teens to courses to prepare them for the SAT test and parents are also arranging for consultants to help their teens get into good colleges. This is a great deal of pressure and stress.
Think back to when your son or daughter was learning to stand or walk. When the child fell, you would tell them good job for trying and keep trying because you will get it. We say this all the time to our little children. However, for some reason when that little child becomes a teenager, mistakes are not as acceptable and often teens get into trouble for making a mistake.
Yes, as a teen their mistakes get bigger and can be very serious. Obviously if a teenager made a mistake of shop lifting or driving while drunk, these are very serious issues and deserve negative consequences the first time they occur. However, if the mistake is they forgot to do their homework or they came home 20 minutes after curfew, these are not as serious and do not require a severe consequence. Remember the consequence needs to be related to the mistake. If it is too severe or if there is no consequence, the teen will not learn anything.
As parents, we need to remember that teens are starting to learn about relationships and how to handle responsibilities as adults. When they were younger they needed to learn how to walk and had to be toilet trained. We were patient with them as little children, why not be patient with them as teens?
When your teenager makes a normal life mistake, instead of getting mad or frustrated look at it as a teaching opportunity and a bonding opportunity. When your teen makes a mistake this gives you an opportunity to discuss what type of adult you would like to see them mature in to and what values as an adult you hope they will have. It is also a chance to grow closer because if you talk with your teen it give you the opportunity to learn about them and for your teen to learn about you.
When your child is 12 years old, this is an appropriate time to start discussing how they are at a point where they need to learn how to talk to and relate to adults as adults. It is also a time for you to begin discussing with them what your expectations are and how you will be handling discipline as they get older.
Often teens do not say anything to their parents when they made a mistake or they are confused about what decision to make because they are afraid that their parents will over react or they are just afraid of how their parents will react. If you have discussed your expectations and how you plan to discipline them as teens before they are teens, you eliminate this fear. Also just by having this discussion about expectations with your child, you start to open the doors of communication with your teen.
One of the biggest problems between parents and teens is the lack of communication. Anything you can do to improve your communication with your teen will improve your relationship with your teen and decrease problems. So don’t look at your teenager’s mistakes as problems, look at them as a teaching opportunity and an opportunity to get closer to your teenager.
Dr Michael Rubino has over 20 year experience working with teenagers. To learn more about Dr Rubino and his private practice visit his website http://www.rcs-ca.com or follow him on Twitter at @RubinoTherapy.