By Officer Jason Jones, MA
I am not an expert in the fields of parenting and child development. However, from my experiences as a police officer, a former juvenile probation officer and counselor and a parent, I have compiled a list of suggestions which may be helpful to parents and care providers who are experiencing difficulties with their children. If you find yourself in a problematic situation, I encourage you to seek professional help, such as counseling.
Every family and situation is different; there is no uniform model for child rearing. However, we as parents share the same hopes for our children: health, happiness, success and good decision-making in their personal lives and communities.
Parental skills: Read parenting books. Join a parent support group and/or attend parent education classes. Participate in family or individual counseling. The problems at home usually don’t develop over night; they generally develop over time. Correcting problems take time.
Household rules: Make sure your house rules are clear and consistent. If necessary, develop a family contract outlining the rules. To get your child to buy-in, include things you will do too. Reward positive behavior and develop natural consequences for the undesired behavior. Give your child options (decision-making) within the scope of what’s acceptable. Don’t threaten, bluff, or give ultimatums – this method rarely works with teens. Never discipline when angry. Wait until you have cooled down because
- Often parents say things they regret later and/or impose too harsh of discipline only to lessen it later.
Love: Make sure your child knows you love her/him no matter what s/he does.Your child’s loyalty to you and your approval of her/him can be powerful motivators – love is the key! Find activities you can do with your child that you both enjoy.
Social life: Help her/him select friends. If too entrenched in the present group of friends, consider removing your child from the current school and enroll her/him elsewhere. Be active in your child’s social life. Know where s/he is going and with whom - check and verify. Encourage your child to participate in extra-curricular activities (sports, drama, art, summer programs) and reward her/him for doing so. Find activities you can do with your child that you both enjoy. Participate in activities with your teen and her/his friend(s).
Education: Reward improvements in grades. Establish a homework hour. Check and help with homework when appropriate. Consider getting weekly progress reports from teachers. Consider tutorial programs. Consider a new academic environment.