Smile Notes: A Performance Machine Lesson for Parenting Teens by Sharon Scott, LPC LMFT
A Performance Machine
By Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT
By Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT
As I type this I’m being “hindered” by my new 8 week old tri-color Cocker Spaniel puppy Colt whose laying in my lap asleep with his head on my keyboard. I’ve only known him for three days yet I already love him. I love him for who he is—not because he’s housebroken or knows some tricks because he doesn’t know much of anything yet. He does know how to cry loudly to be held!
This makes me think of several teen clients over the past years whom I’ve had in my counseling office. I had one 15 year old say “If I do well at school, my parents smile and praise me. If I do one thing wrong, they seem so dissatisfied with me. I feel like a performance machine.” Another youthful client said, “My little sisters get read to, played with and tucked in at night. I get a pat on the head IF I make a good grade at school.’
The morale to this story is clear. Teens and tweens are still children and need a LOT of affection from parents (even when they smirk when you hug them)! They need greetings, talks at bedtime, lots of listening as well as one-on-one time with parents. Of course, their education is important’ yet they need to feel they are important just because of who they are and not what they do. The first words that are probably not the best to say when you pick them up from school is “How was school?” or “What did you make on your test?” Perhaps a better statement would be “Tell me about your day!”
Don’t make the mistake because they look and act mature that they no longer need your attention because they do. The things you did with them when they were younger are probably still, in some fashion, applicable to using with them today. I hope you reflect on what they enjoyed most from you when they were little and begin (or increase) that activity with them.
I know I’ll still be holding Colt when he’s an old dog.
Copyright 2010. Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from author.
P.S. Please see my other column “The Counselor’s Corner”on peer pressure of sexting.
The guide for parents/educators on how to peer-proof children and teens is Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed.
Her popular book for teens, How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, 2nd Ed., empowers kids to stand out,not just fit in!
A follow-up book for teens, When to Say Yes! And Make More Friends, shows adolescents how to select and meet quality friends and, in general, feel good for doing and being good.
Sharon also has a charming series of five books for elementary-age children each teaching an important living skill and "co-authored" with her savvy cocker spaniel Nicholas who makes the learning fun.Their book on managing elementary-age peer pressure is titled Too Smart for Trouble.
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