Advice from Ronn Jeffrey of Youth Alternatives.
I had a parent ask the other day how she could get her kids to change their behavior. She said "I keep waiting for him to grow up and change but it seems like he just doesn't get it."
Anthony, parents need to remember that change isn't easy for anyone, including ourselves. Every day as parents we face challenges in our own behavior that we want to change but have difficulty doing. Maybe we want to change our eating habits, or our exercise routine. Whatever it is, parents go through the same stages of change that our kids go through when we want them to change their behavior.
Theirs a book called "Change For Good," written by Prochaska and others. I like the book because it simplifies the stages of change we go through. I thought today it would be good to talk about those stages and how they relate to parenting:
STAGES OF CHANGE:
1. "I DON'T HAVE A PROBLEM"
This is not a stage where you can reason with kids.
It's pretty hard to get our kids to change a problem they don't think they have.
Don't do a lot of talking, be assertive about the problem and set rules based on your beliefs and don't worry if they don't agree.
This may be difficult but Hey, who said parenting was easy.
2. "MAYBE I HAVE A PROBLEM BUT I'M NOT READY TO WORK ON IT."
This stage usually comes about because something has happen that your kids didn't like. Trouble at school, with police or maybe at home.
The good thing is the natural consequence of their behavior makes them have to begin to recognize something isn't working
Remember, our kids are still not ready to change at this point. It's important to listen a lot and don't bail them out from the natural consequences of their behavior.
3. "OK, I HAVE A PROBLEM BUT HOW DO I FIX IT?"
This is not the time to say "I told you so," no matter how tempting it is. They've opened the door and it took a lot of growing up for them to get to this point.
You may be the most important person in their lives right now because they are searching for ideas and they want your help.
This is an important time for parents to help kids find a solution without finding it for them.
4. "I'M TRYING BUT IT'S REALLY HARD!"
Remember how hard it was to keep exercising even though you knew it was good for you. Our kids are going through the same thing. Their trying something different but it's hard to break old habits.
Parents you get to shine during this stage because our kids really need our support and caring.
It's ok during this stage for parents to take more initiative and suggest and/or help set up positive alternatives for their kids. For instance, if their missing the parties they use to go to encourage them to get involved in other activities.
5. "I GOT IT, BUT IT WASN'T EASY."
Change is never easy, but it's worth it. That's the message parents have to keep reminding their kids of.