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Picks from the Editor - Tips for Taming Teens from Nigel Latta - New Zealand Herald


The key is to communicate. And that doesn't always mean talking - it can mean just being around. 

Establish a one-on-one relationship with your teenager. "All discipline systems are built on a bedrock of relationship. Without it, you have no leverage," Latta writes. "And this is not a friendship: Your kid has plenty of friends. He needs parents." 

Such relationships take time and effort - perhaps a shopping trip together, eating fish and chips, driving to where they want to go, holidays, watching sport. And, with boys particularly, just hanging out. "Not necessarily talking." 

* When teenagers act up, remember you are not dealing with normal people. Act like the silverback gorilla: be tough when you must be. 

* Be a leader, don't be a softie. 

* Refuse to be drawn into teenage chaos and anger. (More silverback gorilla. "Act like the rock, not the sea.") 

* Be brief (mothers to boys, especially). Say what you need to say then shut up: "No, you can't go to your friend's place tonight. Full stop." 

* Negotiate, then set rules. "They tell your kids you care about them." 

* Make those rules simple - "not too loose, not too tight". 

* Make pocket money performance-based. 

* Reward good behaviour, punish bad behaviour. 

* Bribe them: use your superior money supply to keep them in line. 

* Don't make their problem your problem. Instead of "why should the rest of us have to live in a house that stinks because you're too lazy to clean up your room?" say: "You have one hour to clean up your room. If you don't, I will be coming in with a large plastic bag and throwing anything I think is suspect into that bag and taking it to the dump. Your time starts now." 

* Have realistic expectations. For example, hygienic, vermin-free bedrooms are essential; super-tidy rooms are not. 

* Make decisions and keep making them. 

* Make it your business to know what your teenagers like to do with their time (the internet is great for this). 

* Out-manoeuvre them by networking with other parents using the kids' own tools: texting, cellphones and email. 

* Speak their language by getting IT-savvy. Check out YouTube, Facebook and the rest. 


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