The Los Gatos High School Theatre was packed on Oct 16th as everyone poured in to hear what Dr Michael Bradley had to say about why teens are crazy as many parents could identify with this. He started his presentation by stating the parent mission statement: “Our job as parents is not to control our teens, but to teach them to control themselves.” The days of authoritarian, fear-based parenting are long gone. The new model is respect-based parenting. This is a lot harder but a lot more rewarding because you have an opportunity to establish a connection with your teen.
A story he shared with us from his practice is that of a teenage girl and her Mom, who was not happy with the kind of music her daughter was listening to, so she installed spyware on her daughter’s computer. The daughter revealed to Dr. Bradley the spyware on her computer alerts her when her Mom’s spyware is running. When this happens, her computer will appear to her Mom’s spyware that she is listening to the kind of music her Mom approves of when all the while, she is not! The moral of the story is spying doesn’t work. If you do spy, let your teen know you are spying because if you find out something that is upsetting, how are you going talk to your teen about it? “Be careful to preserve and model trust.”
Dr. Bradley said it’s OK to bribe and that was very confusing for me. Isn’t it possible the person receiving the bribe may loose respect for the person giving the bribe? To me, a bribe doesn’t sound like there is much choice in it. So I’m guessing what Dr. Bradley probably meant is a “mutually agreed upon bribe.” It is an effective way of turning an extrinsic behavior into an intrinsic behavior. For example, if your teen doesn’t start homework until 9 p.m., you might give him/her some money for completing his/her homework before 6 p.m. for an agreed upon time period.
We all need bribes or rather incentives to keep us motivated, so why not find one that you and your teen have agreed upon and try it for a little while to see how it works. You can always re-evaluate at the end of this period and talk about what worked and what didn’t. Most importantly, share what valuable lessons you have both learned from this experience.