How Parenting Evolves With a Teenager

By: Behaviorally Speaking

Father and son hiking having fun, father rubbing son's head

About this Podcast Episode

On this episode, Angela and Kristin discuss how teenagers are not the only ones who go through transitions at this time of their lives. As parents, it’s important to evolve and grow as well. Teenage emotions, motivation levels, stress, and responses to their parents’ expectations are just a few of the topics Angela and Kristin dive into.

About the Hosts

Angela Nelson, Ed.D., BCBA, and Kristin Bandi, MA, BCBA, are Board Certified Behavior Analysts with expertise on human behavior and child development. They spend their days working with parents and caregivers of both typically developing children as well as children with learning, social, and behavioral challenges, or developmental disabilities. This podcast is brought to you by RethinkCare

If you need support as a parent or caregiver of a child, we encourage you to ask your Human Resources team if RethinkCare is a part of your employer-provided benefits. RethinkCare reaches millions of lives globally through partnerships with top organizations and Fortune 1,000 companies.


Welcome to episode 41 of Behaviorally Speaking, a podcast featuring board-certified behavior analysts Angela Nelson and Kristin Bandi. On this episode, they talk about how parenting changes and evolves when your child becomes a teenager. And now, here are your hosts, Angela Nelson and Kristin Bandi.

Angie: Hello and welcome to our 41st episode of Behaviorally Speaking. I’m one of your hosts Angela Nelson, board-certified behavior analysts and mother of two.

Kristin: And I’m Kristin Bandi, also a board-certified behavior analyst and mother of three. Hey Angie, how are you?

Angie: I’m good. I’m good. I feel like the weather’s slowly starting to cool down kind of feeling a little bit like fall now.

Kristin: Oh yeah it’s definitely fall here, and I was, I didn’t expect it. My, we have some family coming in town later this week and they’re from Maryland and there’s like, so is it shorts weather? This was last week, she’s like, is it shorts weather? And I was like, oh yeah, oh yeah, it’s definitely still shorts weather here.

Angie: It’s always shorts weather.

Kristin: And then the last couple of days I was like, uh oh, because they’re already like in route there, going to Disney for a few days and they’re stopping and I’m like, oh, I can’t have a repack now, so it warms up because she only has shorts.

Angie: I mean it’s not going to be like 50 degrees in Florida right?

Kristin: I don’t know. It’s, I mean, right now it’s 76, which is like perfect. But you know, morning it was actually chilly. We had, I’d like go around the house and try to find jackets and I was like wow, didn’t expect this. But the thing about Florida is there’s a cold front for like 2 days and then in two days it will be 90 and we’re all so hot again, so.

Angie: Oh man, I know. I’m seeing, I’m seeing online all the pictures of the fall foliage and I’m like, I’m so jealous.

Kristin: Oh yea.

Angie: We don’t know get that in southern California.

Kristin: No, no, we don’t have that here either. But we did put up Halloween decoration yesterday and I just have to say like

Angie: Nice.

Kristin: So, I really like to decorate and put them out and all this up and I took my kids to go get a few others because we really didn’t have a lot so like we need to get more. So, we went to the store and let them all pick out one thing and then we set it all up, but everything we got is like motion sensored.

Angie: Oh no.

Kristin: So, our lawn over here this morning and it was just everything was going off oh, nonstop. I was like, OK, I’m gonna have to go turn all those off because it was like, hello, welcome!

Angie: Oh, geez. Oh, my gosh. Yeah. Don’t like, turn it off except for on the night of Halloween.

Kristin: Exactly.

Angie: But you know kids are going to go around and turn them back on.

Kristin: Right, right.

Angie: Yeah too fun.

Kristin: Oh, yeah.

Angie: Great, so anyway.

Kristin: That was our weekend.

Angie: All right, well let’s get into the topic for today we are going to be talking about teens and we’ve talked about teens periodically throughout our podcasting journey. But today we’re really going to dedicate the whole time to teens and how teens operate what that means talk a little bit about the developmental impacts and talk about motivation because that definitely comes up quite a bit in conversations with families. A big part of what we’re going to talk about today too is how parents can make that transition and that can definitely be hard. Um, I just reading some books about teens right now for my own you know education too because I’ve got a tween and there’s a lot of good stuff in there that I’m learning I want to try to integrate a little bit of it in today’s conversation but you know some parents might be prepping for this transition. Some might be in the thick of it and maybe want to reevaluate how they’re parenting. Um, for example the whole you know. ah because I said so parenting style may not work as well when you have a teenager so we’re gonna get into that today.

Kristin: Yeah it’s hard to know I was thinking about this. You know it’s hard to know like what do we adjust and we have to evolve with our kids as they become teenagers and some of the strategies that we use when they’re 5 probably aren’t going to work when they’re 15 so it makes sense you know on paper, but I think in practice it’s really difficult. Yeah so before we get into the tips I just wanted to mention something that I was reading about earlier today and you’ve probably heard this when kids are younger at least I hear this all the time people will say to me like well wait until they’re a teenager you know and you’re like oh boy it makes it just feel like man that must be so much harder and it just be so much more stressful, but something that I was reading about which I thought was really cool that I was going to share with you is the this research supports that the stress level is actually the same for parents of toddlers or young children and then also parents of teenagers.

Angie: Hmmm.

Kristin: But there are some differences in other areas which is like parent confidence.

Angie: Oh.

Kristin: Which I found to be really interesting and the reason for that and I’m in the you know the young kid age this makes so much sense to me but with little kids and even children just children in general there they are going to ask for a lot more so they’ll have a lot more demands but they’re going to be less complex. So, like I’m hungry or I’m tired or he hit me you know, and they that happens constantly. But there’s less there’s it’s just more of a low lift right?

Angie: Yeah.

Kristin: And so because of that parents who have younger kids they feel a lot more confident and they feel like okay I got this you know I can manage this been there done that or the way that you as a parent solves the problem for your 7 year old might also work for my 7 year old it might be the same so then ah also related to that parents might feel that they have a stronger connection with their kids because at a younger age they might be more smugly and loving and I love you and you’re the best right? And you get all those affirmations from your kids. So, then we move into a teenager and what we’re going to talk about is like obviously teenager and hormones and all that stuff right? But just the way to parent a teenager is so much different because although they need you less what they need you for is just far more complex so it feels a lot harder and where things were like really simple to solve before now aren’t so simple so parents are actually less confident and then they think that they’re a failure as a parent they’re like oh no and I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this when I’m having consultations with parents of teenagers say I really don’t know if I handled that the right way or I’m really not sure if that was the way to go here’s what I did you tell me so there’s a big shift when we get to teenagers and I think this is 1 big reason why?

Angie: O I love that I gotta get the article and cite that since we’re one of our other colleagues and I are hosting a webinar next month on teens.

Kristin: Oh yeah this was I’ll send that one to you I think it was It was some sort of psychology site of some kind. But yeah it could be. It could be a good one for you guys to pull some more research from.

Angie: Yeah I mean it makes perfect sense right? Because and I talk to parents about this quite a bit which is when you have a younger child. It’s more physically demanding and physically stressful and then when they become teenagers or tweens or even older kids I think it’s more emotionally and psychologically stressful because to your point the demands or just the topics are more complex. There’s not a simple solution to them. Sometimes there isn’t really a solution.

Kristin: Yeah, exactly.

Angie: Yeah I think it makes sense that parents are maybe a little bit more confused and just feeling less sure of themselves. So, oh man oh gosh. So, let’s get into the tips then I think that kicks us off really nicely into a set of tips that Kristen and I put together from the literature.

Tip 1: Understand Developmental Milestones for Teenage Years

Angie: So one of the first things to think about is you want to kind of get yourself in check as we might say kind of understand what developmental milestones are typical in the teenage years. Um, there’s a book that I really like that I’m reading right now actually it’s by Dr. Lisa Damour and because then you just found her podcast right? What is it Ask Dr. Lisa?

Kristin: Yes, yeah I think it was yeah Ask Lisa or Ask Dr. Lisa one of the two yeah.

Angie: Um, so she’s written quite a few New York Times bestsellers but the one I’m reading is Untangled: Guiding [Teenage] Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood and it’s a really good one. And she what in the book. She talks a little bit about puberty and how everybody blames things on hormones. But it’s actually kind of in the brain right? Like there are some things in the brains that are not fully developed yet in terms of impulse control wheat. We talk about this a lot too with exact functioning and just making decisions and so on so you know can’t always just blame the puberty. The puberty is more about kind of the physical changes and so on. Um so You know we would invite parents to kind of learn and educate themselves around the developmental Milestones.

Angie: Also recognize your own emotionality. We just did that we’re in the thick of it right now this month is our um parenting group on managing your own emotionality as parents and. So, it’s important to kind of get that in check too. Are you taking things personally? It’s hard not to but you know it is important to remember that they’re growing. They’re going through a lot of big emotions right now and if you start taking everything personally that’s um in the book it talks about how especially for teenage girls’ parents can be the quote unquote emotional dumping ground.

Kristin: Oh, so true.

Angie: Um like yeah you’re the safe person in the safe space and they kind of save it up all day and try to be on their best behavior and they come down. You know come home and with people that love them and unconditionally and are more comfortable around them and sometimes you get the emotional kind of volcano. And you might even feel rejected by your teenager. So, there’s some interesting emotional dynamics for parents that happen. You know I think you had mentioned it earlier too with toddlers. They are you know maybe more physically. Ah um connected and physically kind of lovey dovey or your child gets in trouble or something like that then doesn’t really hurt the relationship necessarily but when you have a teenager and you’re laying down the law and you maybe you get into a big fight that could do some serious. There’s some serious, you know, implications of that and um you know ah could be very, very emotional for the parent too. So, get yourself in check, understand your emotionality and that might. It might wp by understanding the developmental milestones of teens.

Kristin: Yeah I think one of the big ones there you had mentioned is just trying not to be so reactive I mean that’s the one I hear so much and man I tell you it is difficult I think for all parents especially when they get to teens and we’ll get into this a little bit more in just a little bit but it’s hard not to say like because I said so or to go back and forth with them when they’re not listening or they’re giving you an attitude or you know so I feel like this is such a good first tip because it’s like listen understand your team a little bit better and then also think about how are you reacting sometimes to your teen and potentially are you adding fuel to the fire right? Are you, you know so we talk a lot about that. But that’s such a really good one.

Tip #2: Collaborate With Teens to Get Buy In

Kristin: Yeah so, the next one is um really all about collaboration. So, we have mentioned this I think before but when kids are younger, we might be able to say like you’re going to do a soccer right? Or you’re gonna do baseball and it’s a little, it’s easier to just say like here’s what you’re doing because you know I’m your parent and I’m going to make some choices for you. But as kids become teenagers and I think this is applicable to tweens and teens.

Kristin: Yeah.

Kristin: We really have to make sure that we get their buy in, and we let them have say and that’s like the biggest part of this dip. Um you know in the ways that we can do that is to set reasonable expectations and deadlines for tasks and chores and really allow them to come together and say you know what are your chores going to be this week or when do you think you would be able to do, I don’t know to finish this project you’re doing around the house or what do you think would be an appropriate time for your curfew or how long do you think you should have your iPad for in the evenings you know or something like that. So, I feel like just getting their buy-in and helping you know set these boundaries and expectations together can go a long way.

Angie: Yeah.

Kristin: Yeah, um the other piece to this which I talk with parents a lot about and what which I find to be interesting is discussing consequences with your child or with your teen and allowing them to come up with their own consequences which I think is really Interesting. So, I usually say I’ll actually I’ll give you an example I have ah a parent that I was talking with um a couple weeks ago and they were caught stealing um from her friend at school. Um teenager. She had stolen some stuff and she had ultimately fessed up to it. Um but was caught stealing and I said to the mom I said you know let’s see if we can let’s have her talk about like what is what should her consequence be right? And I think they came up with you know she needed to kind of write the wrong in a way and she wrote an apology letter to the to her friend and um even to the teacher because it disrupted the class and stuff like that. Um but instead of the mom just like cracking down and saying like absolutely not like this is never okay and um you’re grounded for three weeks and you know just coming down really firm, she said let’s talk about this like how do we make sure this doesn’t happen again and so the communication there was so important in kind of continuing to build that open relationship and they came up with a consequence together which I thought was awesome.

Angie: Yeah, I like that it’s and so it’s not that we’re saying um you know let kids do whatever they want. It’s more of a collaborative kind of less parent-directed and more you know kind of Independence driven right? like that’s a good life skill for the future. Is you know having them be a little bit more involved in in that boundary setting and you know what’s best for me and my development sort of thing.

Kristin: Yeah, and I think another point to that too is and I think we might talk about it later but instead of saying like because I said so, right? Or this it’s my way or the highway, essentially which is what we might have been able to get away with a bit when kids were younger this allows them to think it through a little bit so instead so you’re having them think like oh my actions do have consequences and oh this is like you just said like it is so important as a life skill to just help them understand why you as the parent might be saying maybe that’s not a good idea right? And they’re having to like unpack that with you I feel like that can be so valuable.

Angie: Yeah. Absolutely yeah definitely, definitely. It’s also a nice way to keep the connection going with your child. You know if it’s not if it’s always because I said so and they don’t feel like they have any control or anything that’s you know that that in and of itself is not going to be good for.

Kristin: Right, totally.

Tip #3: Establish the Value of Activities with Teenagers

Angie: So yeah, so moving on to the next one? Um I really like this one this this concept that teens oftentimes think about which is what’s in it for me and that may come up when you’re asking them to participate in chores or you’re kind of saying okay you got to study for that test. You got to do your homework so again going back into that concept of ah you know having collaboration having a good communication or a conversation talk about. The value of certain activities and the why for doing tasks, especially if they’re not preferred. So why do we need to do the laundry? Well, you know you want to have clean clothes. You want to be able to wear that cute outfit that you ah picked out or that cool outfit that you wanted. Um for the you know football game on Friday night, so you got to do your laundry, or you talked about since ever since you were a kid you wanted to be you know such and such for when you grow up. Well, you need a college degree if you want to pursue that career, right? So, it’s not just me. Nagging you to do your homework. It’s helping you meet the goals that you want so what’s in it for me kind of tying back to yeah sometimes we have to do things that we don’t really like to do but this is why and this is why there’s value in doing those activities that can be a little bit that can go over a little bit better especially because kids at that age. Can they have more? Um

Kristin: Totally and the biggest one that I think about when you mentioned this is going out to dinner or leaving the house at all with the family is one of the big ones, I hear about all the time from families so they’re like my teenager doesn’t want to go anywhere with us. They don’t they want to stay home, and they don’t want to participate, or you know so I feel like this is this is you could use the same thing here right? So, it’s important that you have family time, or you spend time with your family, and I’ve had parents say something to the to the point of like well you know you’re always going to have your family. You know your family’s always going to be here. Yes you have friends but friends are going to come and go but your family is like really who’s here for you and cares for you and that’s the why so you have to come up with your own why you know why you want your kids your teens to go places, but that’s the one I think of for sure.

Tip #4: Let Teens Make Mistakes

Kristin: Yeah so, the next one is this is the biggest shift I think that parents have to make when their kids are growing up into tweens and teens is to be careful about just saving our kids from things and not in terms of safety but in terms of if they’re going to make a mistake or if there’s going to be a potential consequence for a choice. Yes, bailing them out. That’s probably a better way to say it? Yeah, don’t you know don’t be so quick to just you know come into the rescue. Um and maybe allow for some opportunity for growth in this area, but ah one that I can think of that comes up a lot is my teen forgot their homework, right? Well, you know they didn’t pack it in their bag. It was right next to their backpack they forgot it is their responsibility to make sure it gets to school. Maybe we don’t rush to the school to get it in because potentially homework. Okay it might be a small grade, right? There’s 1 point missing. It’s not going to be make or break so start with those things first. But if you can start to do some of those things so that they can start to feel the effects of like oh okay I do have to be more in charge here or wow there is but a potential consequence for some of my actions. Yeah.

Angie: Yeah absolutely, low stakes. Yeah, I’m just thinking I mean we’ve I’ve started to do this too. My husband’s actually better at this than I am but one of the days my um my daughter forgot her violin and I didn’t take it to school.

Kristin: Um that’s hard.

Angie: And so she had to ask the teacher to for like a loner you know and so she had to kind of go through that she was a little bit embarrassed but you better believe though she’s going to be more likely to remember that violin next time because she doesn’t want to have to go through that again.

Kristin: Totally.

Angie: So, I think if we always swoop in and save our kids, especially when the stakes are low.

Angie: Um, we’re not doing them any favors. Honestly, it’s an important life skill like they’re going to be more organized next time when they know that they can’t always just rely on you all the time for that stuff.

Kristin: Um man that is such a hard one and obviously we of in this you know um this podcast we talk a lot about. We know the right thing to do but it’s not always the easiest thing to do sometimes and right now my because my kids are so small. My daughter had a they did like a it wasn’t a color run but it’s like some sort of run but they all wore different all the grades wore different colors and my daughter also had show and tell that day so she had to wear a certain outfit and she also had show at tell and she forgot her baby doll and of course I was like my husband was going to watch them so I was like she forgot a baby doll and I remembered the last moment you know and I gave it to him and I’m just thinking like that’s my you know vision now or that’s kind of where I’m at and parenting, but it’s got to be so difficult to make that shift when kids are older and that’s what we talked about beginning like there are things that have to be different and I’m going to have to let her forget the baby doll even though it’s not going to be a baby doll in 10 years but yeah it’s that’s so tough.

Angie: Yeah, I think that one strategy to help with that transition is you know when they’re younger and you do bring something to the school, I mean I’ve done it too. My, it was not long ago my younger one went to school with sandals on and the school nurse called they’re like well she’s in here you need to bring shoes and that’s you know that’s a little bit different but I did say to her listen next time if this happens again I’m not bringing shoes. You’re going to just have to you know deal with the consequences of the school not being very happy about that and so I think explaining like bailing them out when they’re younger but just saying look next time I’m not going to be bailing you out you kind of put them on notice a little bit like you gotta start paying more attention to this and that helps maybe the transitions you’ve given them as a warning you know? So, you’re not just cutting them off cold turkey.

Kristin: Right? That’s a good idea. Yeah smart.

Tip #5: Create Routines for Teens to Help With Executive Functioning Skills

Angie: So well getting into the next one here this is another one that I think is a good reminder for parents when we’re raising teenagers. It can be very stressful on us. But we have to remember that teens are also stressed, and they may legitimately forget things, right? They it’s not necessarily that they’re unmotivated right? They might legitimately forget to do their chores and so we can help them by you know together creating routines sending those routines and keeping them consistent. Maybe even making visual supports like lists checklists and so on you could encourage them to use apps if they have a phone, right? like put it in your you know put it on this app or put it in your calendar um have a conversation with them about how you can help them with their executive functioning skills. That’s something course ah a concept that we talk about all the time on this podcast. Um and I’ll even mention too. This was shocking, this true story this happened this weekend. My older daughter who’s but ten and a half so tween age she had a checklist, or she had she made a list for herself I think that she needed to do and wanted to do this weekend and I was like oh my gosh that is not like her. She is my one that’s a little bit more just kind of does you know what she wants and gets a little distracted. Um and I don’t know if she saw because my husband and I both are big list makers, don’t know where she got that if it was from us or she just came up with the idea I was so proud of her.

Kristin: Wow.

Angie: Yeah she was like I was worried that I was gonna forget some stuff so I just started writing it down so you know those sort of things are easy to do if your kids or your teens not doing that already, it’s a good thing to encourage them to do um o they don’t forget to do things Um but you know yeah just this another life lesson to help them with their executive functioning and to remember that you know they may not just be but you know unmotivated or choosing not to do something they may legitimately be forgetting.

Kristin: Um yeah, I think that’s such an important and valid point because when kids become teens, they get into late middle school, high school, there is just so many things that they have to do right like the expectations go up drastically and we may not have taught them all the skills to keep up with that right? So naturally they’re going to forget some stuff like you just said and I feel like that tip goes with the one before that so if you had to save your child and send that homework or bring that homework in or your teen or you didn’t send in the homework for your teen then saying how can we make sure you do it the next time can you set a reminder on your phone to get your homework in you know so I feel like those two can go together but you’re right? It is about just kind of taking a step back and looking at the situation and not just quickly assuming like they’re not motivated to do it. That’s why they didn’t do it, I think that’s a really good point.

Tip #6: Instead of Always Problem Solving, Ask Teenagers How You Can Support Them

Kristin: Yeah so, the next one, talking a little bit about emotions. So, ah yeah teenagers are going to be emotional right? I mean that’s just kind of it, moving on.

Angie: Right?

Kristin: No, just kidding, but yeah I mean obviously there’s going to be all different kinds of emotions that come into play because of hormones like we had mentioned before but not only because just because of hormones I think just because of the added stressors in life and social situations are way more complex and so there’s just a lot more going on so when it comes to teenagers and so one thing that that you could do as a parent is ask your teen right? What do you need from me? How can I support you in this moment? We mentioned on I can’t remember which podcast it was. We just talked about where we had said be careful about just problem solving for your teen right? Or for your kid or for your teen and just jumping in and be like here’s what you can do or if I were you here’s what I would do right and a lot of times they don’t want that they just want you to listen and so making sure that you just take the time out and say okay do you just want to tell me about it like do you want a vent right? Or do you want me to help you problem solve you know so really asking in that moment or after right? How you can best support them with whatever it is they come to you with.

Angie: Yeah.

Kristin: Yeah, yeah.

Angie: Yeah.

Kristin: And then along with that I think as you get, I mean as a parent, right? You know your kids and your teens pretty well but thinking about your teens and you know you know how they are right? So, if suddenly if your child’s super outgoing and they’re just always in a great mood and they’re happy to come to dinner and then suddenly there are more reserved and they’re in their room and they’re grumpy or they’re not. They don’t want to come to dinner then you might know. Okay this something might have happened right? Something might have gone on school today or there might be a conflict and that might be the time where you can go and assess and again you can lead with that. How can I support you or do you want me to support you, but just making sure to kind of support your kids in or your teens really in the best way you can while navigating those complex emotions.

Angie: Um yeah absolutely that’s a good you know indicator too. Um of or I should say it’s a good exercise to assess if you think something is wrong is to just observe right? So, observe your child and we know that teenagers can be kind of lay bile like up and down and up and down. But if you see a stark contrast from their typical kind of demeanor or temperament that’s probably an indicator to go and check in. But um I say no I don’t know if I told you just recently maybe it was when we were prepping for this I did try this strategy with my 10 year old and ask because she was you know upset about something and I said what will be most helpful for you right now and she said I just want to listen to you, I mean I want you to just listen to me I just want to talk and I don’t necessarily want you know advice I’m like okay so it put on my counselor hat and I just was reflecting back and kind of doing my active listening and it was really great. So, I think anytime these upsetting things pop up I’m probably going to do that same thing. It’s just like what would be helpful. You know I do that with my husband too. We do that with each other and it’s true like sometimes I just want event and just have him acknowledge and validate that what I’m going through is you know not fun.

Kristin: Um, right? Yeah, exactly Yeah not everybody wants a solution. You know it’s sometimes it’s good and it’s therapeutic just to tell somebody about what’s going on and you just want them to say man that must be hard.

Angie: Right.

Kristin: Like that that is very therapeutic and so obviously doing that with our teens can be so helpful. Yeah.

Angie: Yeah, definitely all right?

Tip #7: How To Motivate Your Unmotivated Teenager

Angie: Well, we’re actually down to our last tip already. This is kind of a doozy one and we’ve referenced. Yeah, we’ve referenced motivation quite a bit through this podcast already. But what if my team it team the teen doesn’t appear motivated so we went through a couple lists and found some strategies that we think would be helpful so helping them develop interest that’s going to really get into more of that intrinsic kind of internal motivation so helping them and along with that helping them kind of come in contact with things that maybe they’re good at so we do this a lot when kids are younger but we can continue when they are teenagers which is just helping them with opportunities to explore things that they can develop skills in and develop an interest in um or maybe.

Kristin: Yeah.

Angie: Yeah, to develop their strengths. Maybe it’s also connecting with a coach or a mentor or something like that. Um we can help them set reasonable and achievable goals. So, when you set goals that ties back into motivation too because it can really help with task initiation or kind of getting started persisting and you know be able to put in more effort when we know that there’s a goal attached to that.

Kristin: Yeah, and I was I was going to jump in there I think one of the biggest parts of that is make sure it’s their goal, right? And not your goal as a parent for your child and I say that because you had mentioned it before about talking about going to college and I want to make sure my child does all their homework and schoolwork and gets a’s so they can get into this school, but the child teen might not be interested in that school right? So, making sure that whatever that goal is that that the teenager has set that goal.

Angie: Yeah, that is that’s super important. You know sometimes what we’re thinking or we’re hearing about teenagers and they’re doing poorly in school or doing all these things and you know but we don’t often as much I think hear about these stories of kids on the other end of the spectrum where there’s just so much pressure to get into the top Ivy League school and you know and so on and so I think it’s you know we need to take a step back and think whose goal is that you know is this really what your child wants to do you know?

Kristin: Yeah.

Angie: Forcing effort and experience over achievement, that’s something else too. I think that’s important for us as parents to remind ourselves that if your child is really trying their best, they’re putting in a good effort. They’re putting in time they’re studying or they’re practicing a sport or something. Um but maybe they’re not getting straight As or maybe they’re not you know earning that college scholar that athletic scholarship or whatever. Um you know really reinforcing their effort and hey you know what you tried your best and that’s Awesome. You should be proud of that, so we have to remind ourselves of that as parents.

Kristin: Yeah.

Angie: 1 of our colleagues is really ah kind of well versed in motivational interviewing and this is 1 aspect of motivational interviewing that I that I really like you could when you’re talking with your child. You could use this sort of phrasing which is wow you know we talked about your ability, how would you rate your ability on such and such, maybe it’s a sport. Um you said that you rated yourself as a seven out of 10 so why not an eight but also why not a six?

Kristin: Um oh Wow yeah.

Angie: You know so you’re helping them kind of understand oh I’m more than I’m higher than a six because of such and such so it really helps them to kind of you know get a little bit deeper into that motivation and be able to recognize their strengths and what they’re doing well and it kind of helps boost their Overall you know um concept of themselves.

Kristin: Yeah oh I love that I am going to use that one all the time with all the things that’s such a good one because I feel like it’s so important for kids to identify that and teens to say like well why, why am I not you know why am not an 8 in that moment. Oh, because I didn’t do this exact thing and I also will say that I have a lot of families I work with whose teenagers are extremely hard on themselves for the smallest, smallest mistake and I feel like this could also shed some light on those teens who are really kind of fall under that perfectionism category right? And to be able to help with that. So, the you know the other side of things where we’re trying to get them to see that mistakes are okay, and you can make some mistakes and maybe the oh too motivated I feel like this could be really helpful there too.

Angie: Yeah, absolutely yeah, I like that one. Um yeah but you know and it’s a good self-reflection tool, right? I’m just thinking with my own kids they might say like oh you know 7 Oh why? Not an 8 you know I guess I probably could have studied a little bit more or I guess I could have put a little bit more effort into doing that chore or something but then also you know helping them reflect on. Yeah, well you know I studied hard, or you know I wanted to watch TV, but I checked over my spelling words a couple more times you know so again it’s just it’s ah it’s a good self-reflective tool. Um, yeah, it’s called motivational interviewing.

Kristin: Yeah nice.

Angie: Um and then the last thing too as it relates to motivation. We know there’s a lot of research on intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. But you know a temporary extrinsic motivator might be a good incentive. Maybe you create one if there isn’t kind of a natural consequence or a natural incentive in there but sometimes using a temporary external or extrinsic motivator could eventually turn into something that’s more intrinsic so don’t forget about that that that definitely could be used successfully you know at least for a temporary basis.

Kristin: Yeah I get this one all the time I don’t know about you on your calls but I get this one all the time like can I pay my child to get good grades and you know we kind of have to have the discussion and usually I think the other side of that is then when will they be motivated to get good grades and so we have to kind of go down that road of like well you know some people are more naturally incentivized by good grades than others and all that but I agree with that that sometimes we do have to add in and just a little bit of an extra motivator for maybe rewarding all that effort like you said right? And then eventually it turns into Wow suddenly they are doing so well in school because they love the subject or now, they’re in college and they’re like super excited to learn about whatever it is that we’re talking about in college and they’re going to be their major and so then they’re really interested, and they naturally do well. So, yea I think that’s a good call out as well.

Angie: So yeah, but I think that’s um yeah, I think sometimes parents don’t get worried about the um extrinsic motivators and stuff. But yeah, I mean to your point some people just may not like school. It’s not for everybody, right?

Kristin: Right?

Angie: But you know you want them to at least maybe if they’re not college bound but you might need to figure out a way to help them boost their motivation if they don’t see the value, right? That ties back to one of our earlier tips if they don’t see the value and they’re just they’re not interested in higher education. It might be something and if they don’t love school or what they’re doing then yeah maybe it’s something that’s not necessarily intrinsic or directly tied to the school, but it yeah sometimes it has to be ah extrinsic. But that’s okay because we know that that that can still can still work well to help them reach. You know those goals.

Kristin: Yeah, and I’m not to belabor the point here. But I think too kind of going into the goal setting, right? Like I think a lot of us might reward ourselves by meeting our goals in life, right? You know even as an adult in the workplace you might meet all your goals and so then you’re like I’m going to go and get myself that manicure or whatever it might be right? So, I feel like there is a little bit of that naturally anyway as we grow so creating it for your teens now could be helpful and eventually maybe they’d create it for themselves later on meet that big goal I get this big reward and that’s just you know some people are incentivized, incentivized that way.

Angie: Yup, definitely.

Kristin: Yeah.


Angie: That’s gonna do it for today, I hope you all learned a little something on ways to support your teenagers. Thank you for joining us on our 41st episode of Behaviorally Speaking. On our next episode we will be doing a special grab bag session where we will answer all of our listener questions so be sure to tune into that one and email us if you have an idea for a new podcast topic for 2024. You can email us at [email protected]. Until then, don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast on your favorite platform so you never miss an episode.

You’ve been listening to Behaviorally Speaking, with Angela Nelson and Kristin Bandi, brought to you by RethinkCare. Find out more at Rethinkcare.com. You can find past podcast episodes under the Resources tab. We also invite you to subscribe, follow, like, and leave us feedback wherever you listen to podcasts. Your feedback helps us prepare topics and content for future episodes. Until next time, have a great day.

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