My best books for summer, “What are you reading these days?”
So, I put together a quick blog post on what I consider to be some great books for summer reading. With no further ado–the Yaya’s list of the best books for summer!! FYI–I now blog with the name Parenting High Schoolers, but I will always be a yaya!
*This post may contain affiliate links. My full disclosure policy ishere.
(Also, check out my post with book recommendations for parenting teens. And, here is another post with great books to read with or without your teens.) Enjoy my list of books for summer:)
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8 Books For Summer (Or Anytime!)
Your teens will love these, too!
I LOVED this book. It’s about 3 young women during World War II. Herta is a German doctor at a concentration camp who is convinced that Hitler’s agenda is absolutely for the best-an unusual point of view to read, but so interesting!
Kasia is a Polish gal who is transported to the camp where Herta works. Caroline is a French woman living in the US with her mother, and works to help orphans back home in France with care packages. The story follows each of them through the length of the war and after. Eventually, all paths cross. This book is based on real women.
Another favorite. This story is set at the turn of the 19th century. An older gentleman gathers newspapers in cities where they are printed and travels to remote areas. He then reads to citizens for a small price.
Due to a particular event, he is saddled with taking care of a young girl. Their relationship evolves over time. It is also based on true events.
Did you know that the United States Congress has recommended the reading of this book? It is the scenario of a post- EMP event in the US. EMP stands for electromagnetic pulse-find out what this means when you read the book. I had no idea!
The setting is in the mountains of North Carolina. The story is great–scary, informational, and so interesting! It is a trilogy. One Year After and The Final Day follow. I’ve read the first two in the series, and I am excited to read the third!
After I read One Second After, I ran across this book by Ted Koppel which is non-fiction. (It’s based on his research and interviews about this very event actually happening). It’s really hard to put down–definitely food for thought!
This is a story that our book club for 7th grade boys and their moms have read for May. The topic is a school shooting. It is told from 17 points of view, including an inanimate object… A very timely subject and fodder for great discussion.
It is written by multiple authors, and is really a great read! Warning: serious subject matter, but I feel like my son and I have had really good conversations from the reading so far. We are almost finished.
I loved this non-fiction book that Rubin wrote. She picked one topic a month to focus on to improve her life. She looks at science and philosophy and writes an easy-to-read book with steps to follow. There is a journal to use as you follow along writing one sentence at a time. There is mom journal also if you preferred, also writing one sentence at a time.
Sanna lives with her dad on their family orchard in Door County, Wisconsin. A new tenant and his 10 year old son move into the trailer on the property as tenants and summertime help for the trees.
A bad accident, mysterious incidents of destruction of property, and hints of romance make for a great summer read!
I could not put this one down! It’s based on true events, and is at once sad and happy. Five orphans in the late 30’s in Tennessee and a young attorney in modern day South Carolina. How are they related?
This story goes back and forth in time, and at both ends the characters are so compelling! Enjoy this book soon. (By the way, I have gone on to read a couple more of her books, and I have really enjoyed them!)
I read this last summer and laughed out loud more than once! Riley is a small town “spinster” who loves to read obituaries and imagine the former lives of the dead. Her childhood best friend passes away, and all of a sudden she is asked to write an obituary.
All sorts of crazy events begin to occur, and Riley begins to wonder if her friend’s death is even a suicide after all. This is a great read for your lounger by the pool!
Jill is from my hometown, and has now written the sequel in Riley’s adventure, The Bad Break which I cannot wait to read this summer-I did and loved!! She has actually now written the third book in her series about Riley. It’s called The Ugly Truth, available now! The fourth book in the series is now available as well! The Full Scoop.
Hope this helps with finding the best books for summer to read!
Happy reading and let me know if you have any favorites that you would add to my list of books for summer!
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Here are some things I’m learning and loving in the month of August, “Smart Parents” that I think might help you. I talk about a few things that I am learning and loving in my life right now. This includes recipes, books, movies and gadgets, etc. Here are some ideas for parents of teens in August.
Please know that I am thinking of you in these hard days, and will try to find fun and useful things to share with you each month!
Here are the posts for June and July. Let me know what you are learning and loving so that I can add that to future posts!) Without further ado, here are helpful ideas for parents in August. *This post may contain affiliate links. My full disclosure policy ishere.
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One thing that I have learned about myself is that I do NOT like to work out. If I don’t do a workout of some sort in the morning, then I don’t do one. Also, it is really hard for me to motivate myself.
The technology that makes these different is pretty cool, and to think that we used to think rope was great as a kid.😀 Did you know that you can burn 1.074 calories per hour when jumping rope? I don’t plan to jump for an hour, but I would love to build up to 30 minutes. That would still be 537 calories burned!
I will keep you posted on my journey to get fit!
Have you checked out the show on Netflix called Down To Earth with Zac Ephron? It is a travel based docu-series. Zac travels to new countries and cultures each episode and learns about sustainability for our planet and all species on it.
He and a friend try local foods, visit different people and schools. Each episode introduces ways that we can help our environment. I really like the way that he encourages even tiny steps that are doable!
Have you heard about Folex? It is an amazing stain remover! My girlfriend recommended it. She said it would remove stains from carpet, furniture, even my dirty white sneakers… I bought some, and she was right. This stuff is awesome! I now have a bottle upstairs and down, and I use it all the time!
I could not put this book down! The main character is unloveable, or so she believes. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, and the time period for this book is so interesting. I actually thought that it would be an earlier time period from the description, but I loved it!
Please read it, and let me know what you think! I love Kristin Hannah’s books, and this might be my new favorite of hers.
These are the cutest (and useful!) wine bottle toppers! I just received one in a goodie bag, and it’s great! You can even put your wine bottle down sideways, and it won’t leak!
When it comes to loving on your teen, you wouldn’t think that talking would be a good way to do this, but it really can be great! Communicating with teenagers is key to your relationship with them. But, in order for it to be a loving act, there are a few things to think about.
As a mom, I know that I have so many things spinning in my head that I want to talk to my boys about. I can overwhelm them if I’m not careful. Here are some tips to help you as you parent your teens.
Here is one of my YouTube videos discussing how to get a conversation started with your teen:)
When is the best time to talk?
First, keep in mind that there are better times than others to talk with your teens. This means that you need to do some homework as a parent. Pay attention to when your teen is at their best, or at least better than most times.
Watch to see if your teen prefers mornings for a chat or is your teen a late-night owl?
After school is a usually a terrible time. They have been talked to all day long. They are tired, and probably need some time to decompress. However, it can be a good time, after they have had a snack, and some time to just hang out.
Think about yourself, and remember that there are times that you prefer company, and other times that you would rather be left alone! Let these tips help improve communicating with your teenagers.
Once you have decided when is best to have a conversation with your teen, here are some ways to keep the lines of communication open. This can lead to improved relationships for your family, and you can get creative with other ways to show your teen some love!
*This post may contain affiliate links. My full disclosure policy is here.
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Have you read my book? It’s all about talking with your teens to prepare them for their future: college, jobs, life… Here’s the link to the blog post.
5 Easy Ways To Improve Communicating with Teenagers
Keep it short.
Our teens dread big talks with parents. That truth might hurt, but it’s a good one to remember. There are a couple of ways to help them not to dread these times. One is to make sure that you keep the time short, no more than about 30 minutes-no matter what! Sometimes, a quick check-in is even better. Let them know you’re thinking of them, remind them of maybe one topic that has been a concern, and be done.
Realize that teens won’t “get it” right away.
In other words, what you are saying may not be what they want to hear right now. Some discussions need to occur in increments depending on your teen and/or the topic. Some examples would be: money management, future plans like college or next year’s schedule, or even the evolution of different rules as they get older.
Many topics are too massive to think that one conversation is enough… So, again, don’t overwhelm. This is why you can’t give up. Communicating with teenagers might be the biggest challenge that we face as parents, so DON’T give up!
Listen more than you talk!
One thing that many teens complain about is that their parents just don’t listen. They feel like they are lectured to, yelled at, and otherwise talked at more than they are listened to. If you want your kids to talk to you, then you have to listen.
Start by asking open-ended questions. Discuss a a game that you both recently watched. Talk about their friends and find out what has been happening. Give them time to think and talk. Sometimes being quiet together is really nice. Remember that when communicating with teenagers, it definitely needs to be a 2-way street.
I know that I am guilty of questioning my boys to death, and I have to remind myself to just wait for their answers and be okay with some non-answers–super hard for me!!
Remember that silence is golden, sometimes they just need to vent and move on. Let them.
Choose 2-3 topics, no more!
This goes along with listening. Don’t overwhelm your teen with too many topics, another thing that I am so guilty of! Choose just a couple of the most important topics to address, then put the rest on hold. Sometimes one topic will lead to another, but don’t force the issue.
Let your teen know that there are other concerns or topics to cover, but not today. They will appreciate this, and together you can schedule another conversation based on the urgency of what needs to be discussed.
Here is a link to a post about some possible topics to discuss. Most you will have thought of, but just in case…
Sometimes, like their senior year, there will be many conversations! Warn them ahead of time, that this will be happening, so they will be expecting it. This will be true no matter whether they are headed to college or into a job because there is just so much!
Other times, there are not so many things to talk about, but always stay in conversation with your teen. Communicating with teenagers is a balancing game, so try not to tip that balance.
Know that our teens’ lives are complicated.
This cannot be forgotten. We have no idea about their lives. We know how are our teenage years were, but their lives are even more complicated by all the social media. We cannot understand because even if our teenage years were difficult, (and who’s were easy?), we didn’t have that to deal with!
Empathy and staying in communication with our teens is the best way to help them through. Don’t be pushy about this. But, don’t let them push you away either. If they aren’t in the mood to talk, tell them it’s all right for a bit, but before the day is over, you want to check in and talk even for just five minutes.
This will give them space, but also know that there is a deadline for their solitude. Start this when they are a younger teen, so that they get used to the fact that they cannot shut us out indefinitely. There will be ups and downs throughout these teen years, but going for more than a few hours should be unacceptable.
Grab a cute poster to download and print off for girls here. And, here’s a link to a poster of encouragement for anyone!
Parenting is not for the faint of heart.
If you have a teen, then you need to know that these years are long and short. Long because the teenage years last for seven years. Short because they will fly by so quickly! As a parent, you will have so many opportunities to mentor and guide your teen.
Don’t give up. If a conversation goes south, apologize if needed, and move on. Try again later. Communicating with teenagers is THE key to your relationship!
Your teen needs privacy, but don’t let that prevent a relationship from thriving. Your teen needs you now more than ever! Don’t let their moods dictate the state of your family-forgive and forget. You got this!
One more thing, get yourself a support group. Friends, family, co-workers. People that can listen to you vent, cry, complain. People who can give you advice and be a sounding board. I have found that for me, it’s been great to have someone with kids just a little older who have been through whatever stage already before.
Hey, it’s approaching soon–moving your kiddo into their freshman dorm… That bittersweet day when your baby-not-baby heads off to college. How can this be? Just yesterday he was crawling around in his diaper! Just yesterday she was playing with her baby doll and twirling around the house in her little tutu! Now you are wondering, “What will my freshman need in the dorm?”
You blinked, and now they are practically grown! Seriously, we have to think about moving them out of our houses and into a dorm room at college. It’s not so bad if you are organized to begin with. I am here to help!
*This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. My full disclosure policy ishere.
What will I need to move into the dorm?
First, remember thatspace is limited, so making careful choices is important. Second, if you have a girl, then she will probably want to decorate and make her room super cute. If you have a boy, then for the most part, he could probably care less. My 2 boys are of the care less sort.
The items on this list are not decorative, but super useful for any college student. They are in no particular order of importance, but all will be necessary!
One thing that I suggest you that you do, is to purchase a couple of things a month over the spring and summer before so that it’s not one big expensive month right before! Another option would be to divide the list of needs with the other roommate.
When I was a senior, my mom gave me one or two things a month for the whole year before college, so that by the time I went away, I had everything that I needed:)
Please check out my comprehensive lists on Amazon. I created lists forDorm Room Essentials andCollege School Supplies, These are pages I created on Amazon’s website where you can actually go shop right from the list! Check them out!
Grab everything all at once and have it all delivered right to your door! You are welcome😀
Have you thought about the legal implications for your teen turning 18?
HIPAA, FERPA, Selective Service… Check out my post which addresses all of those topics and what you should think about for your teen at their 18th birthday. There are so many things that I hadn’t even thought about, so, please inform yourself.
Items for move-in day
Before I start the list, you need to think about moving all the stuff in! Here are a couple of things that I would totally recommend having on hand. First, Ikea Frakta bags -these are the bomb, and order early because these go fast! A door stopper is great for all the in and outs.
The other item I would recommend having is a collapsible wagon. This can be stored under your student’s bed and then used for laundry, groceries or hauling things back out to their car for holidays etc.
Also, will you teen be driving a lot? They should have a safety container in their car for travel. This is a great place to put those legal forms that you work on above. If your teen will be on the road for long distance travel at all, I have some tips on an emergency kit for their car. Check it out here.
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What will my freshman need in the dorm?
Before you get anything, check with the college and the roommate so that you have the room dimensions, allowed items, and know what each roomie is going to bring. This will save you time and money. Remember to buy small. They can always replace when they run out of something. Horizontal space is limited, so be creative!
Before you spend the money on a microwave and/or refrigerator, check with the school because they may have a rental program with the exact model that they allow. Otherwise, think small, and stack the microwave on top of the fridge!
Multi-plug outlet/charger –this has outlets, USB ports, and a timer, and even has a surge protector. This is a MUST! Be sure to have a long phone cord for charging because you never know where the closest outlet will be!
Surge protector -many schools won’t allow extension cords, so grab one of these and, be sure to get one with lots of outlets.
Keurig -This is great not just for coffee. Your student can heat up water for ramen, mac ‘n’ cheese, etc. A Brita pitcher is nice, too, depending on the taste and quality of the water. Be sure to get the smallest that you can for each since their space is so limited!
Area rug –This is for comfort, as well as style. It can be a basic monotone rug or multi-colored or patterned one. Stepping onto a rug is so much nicer than a plain, tiled floor, especially in the middle of the night! Don’t forget a rug gripper pad to keep it in place, and a small vacuum to keep it clean.
Mattress topper -Must have because the mattresses in dorm rooms are awful! Be sure that you find out the size of the mattress, sometimes they are twin XL, and sometimes not.
Command hooks –-many different sizes for hanging everything! Small, medium and large are all available. These can be used for a million reasons around a dorm room. And, these ceiling hooks are awesome for hanging flags or other lightweight items.
Shower caddy –So handy for the dorm shower, even if you have a suite setup, it keeps all your “stuff” together! Don’t forget to pick up a pair of shower shoes while you’re at it!
Prop-up bed wedge -I like the one in this picture because it has a removable cover, and it’s oversized. It’s a bit more expensive, but no telling what might spill on this in a dorm room! Grab a bedside shelf or organizer– so great in the limited space of a tiny room.
Prime Student 6-month Trial –This is the best! Videos, books for college and your kindle app, and lots more.*(Unlimited FREE Two-Day Shipping (with no minimum order size) * Exclusive deals and promotions for college students!)
Laptop computer –Every school is different, so you need to have your student check to see which computer is recommended. My oldest son got this for graduation, and our middle son got this one. They each had different wants and needs, and they have both been happy with their choices.
Laundry basket –Don’t forget to grab detergent, stain stick, and dryer sheets while you’re at it. Also, check out this tiny air purifier that just plugs into an outlet and is the size of your fist. (It does not require a filter, and would be great in a dorm room for freshness. It will eliminate odors, bacteria, and allergens.)
Printer -Most kids assume that since there is free printing in many places on campus, they won’t need a printer of their own. What they don’t think about is that many times that means a walk to the bookstore or the learning lab or wherever the school printer happens to be.
Dorm safe -This is almost a must. My son was on meds that his friends always wanted. It was so much easier on him to be able to lock it up and not worry about it. They can also lock up their money, gift cards and jewelry.
First aid/health kit -This will come in so handy, and it can be refilled and personalized with specific meds and extra band-aids etc.
Toolkit -My son took a toolkit that my husband put together for him. He told me that almost every day someone needed something out of his kit! He also had a box of extras like scissors, flashlight, batteries, zip ties, liquid nails, thumb tacks,
And, just for fun, these LED strip lights are so cool! My friend has them around the white boards in her classroom, and I thought they would be so much fun around the frame of the beds in a dorm room. They can be set to one color or set to change.
Have you heard about the Flippy? My bestie in Denver got one of these from her daughters because it drove them crazy when she would build towers out of side tables etc to put her devices on to Zoom her daughter who lives overseas! She loves it! So get one for when you and your teen talk after they have left home! You can prop it up in any position for whatever makes you the most comfortable!
Make the most out of your last months as you answer the question, “What will my freshman need in college?”
Fall semester is quickly approaching. Enjoy your last month of summer! Get some hugs in if your kid will let you, and make family time happen! I am thinking of you because we have been there. I’ve gone through it twice now. so I know how quickly this all goes.
I hope that I was able to answer your question, “What will my freshman need in the dorm?” I am definitely sending my love to you all in this really bittersweet time!
Other helpful ideas as you help your teen prepare for college
One thing that one of my boys loved was this digital picture frame. He wasn’t one to put up pictures, and he wasn’t far from us, but he said he would turn this on occasionally if he hadn’t seen us in awhile.
How do I apply for college? How to help your teen!
This post covers how to make this process easier for your teen, starting the summer before their senior year. There are many things to keep track of, so get organized! Check out this post which will help your and your teen stay organized throughout high school.So, when your teen asks, “How do I apply to college?” and you haven’t been doing all of these things, it’s not too late to start!
Schools are sending information to prospective students via email and snail mail. It is such fun for your teen to receive all of these! Now, it’s time to begin the process of applying to colleges. *This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. My full disclosure policy ishere.
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Throw away any unwanted information!
Have your teen throw away any packets from schools that they are not interested in. his will eliminate over half of what they receive. Your student needs to use both the trash can and their email trash. Tell them to stay on top of this because the stack will grow, and their inbox will get to be overwhelming!
This is one job that you can help with. I would go into my sons’ email inboxes (with their permission) and delete any that my they knew were too far away or too expensive or too whatever…
And, here is a blog post that goes in conjunction with the book and the information in this post. Many of these discussions that I write about in my book address the very things that your teen will need to know when thinking about “How do I apply to college?”
When Do I Apply for College?
The actual process of college application is in the fall. That is when application due dates typically begin. Each college will be different. Most will accept your teen all the way until school starts the next fall based on the number of applicants. Just beware that financial aid is rewarded first come, first serve. The later that your child applies, the less chance of monies. They will also run the risk of the freshman class filling up, and being waitlisted.
Make a plan
There are a variety of college counseling sites that will help you!
Here are a few choices. This would have been so helpful for us with our older two boys. I will definitely be shopping these options with our third when it’s time for college applications!
College Meister has two programs for application completion help. One and Done, meaning you will complete applications in one week. Or, Eight is Enough, meaning that you will complete your applications in 8 weeks. They provide structure and help as you wade through this process.
Some college application due dates will be immediate, others not for awhile. There may be an early decision date which is binding, others have early decision which is non-binding. Others will have rolling decision dates, which means that your child may have more time.
Have your child look on each college’s website. What is the tuition package? What sorts of scholarships are available? Is there a tiered fee structure? Where does your student fall in all of that?
One more thing to look at as far as applications go, is whether or not the college charges an application fee. These can add up, so be sure that if you spend that money, it is really a place that they can see themselves going to for the next 4 years.
Fill out the FAFSA.
The FAFSA due date is October 1. Do not wait until the first to fill it out! It can take hours to get it filled in, double-checked and completed! Read about what the FAFSA and what it actually is here. (If you are able to link through the IRS, the time will be greatly shortened.)
Have your child register for the ACT and/or SAT again, if those scores are something which they are wanting to improve upon. They can still apply for colleges, and can just update the score for the college either yourselves or via the test center. They can even take these tests after being accepted, just be sure that they update the college with any improvement to their score! (It might make a difference to the financial aid package that they might receive.)
Ways that ACT and SAT are scored
Some schools ask for the ACT composite score. This is the score of each subtest which is then divided by the number of subtests. The composite score and each test score (English, mathematics, reading, science) ranges from 1 (low) to36 (high), and is the average of the four test scores, rounded to the nearest whole number. Fractions less than one-half are rounded down; fractions one-half or more are rounded up.
Another ACT score that a school may ask for is the superscore. This is made up of the best sub-scores regardless of test date. Be sure to send in all test scores for consideration. This creates a new superscore using only the highest numbers. Not all schools will ask for either of these, but look out for these options.
Here is a great resource for SAT test prep from College Prep Genius.
Visit campus if possible!
One of the best ways to know if a school might be a good fit is to visit the campus. The best time to go is during the school year so that your teen can get a true feeling of what life is like during a school day. Here is a guide to planning the visit! Go anytime during their early high school years if possible. (During these days of COVID-there are online versions of college visits–just check out the college’s website.) Here is a great list of questions to ask whether you are in person for the visit, or contacting the campus after looking online!
A lot of people wait until junior year, which is fine, but by then most teens are super busy. If you can take them for a visit during their freshman or sophomore year, it gives them time to think about things. Your teen can start to make decisions and eliminate some of their choices earlier.
Visit a variety of colleges if possible!
Visit small and large schools. Visit state schools and private. Visit one that is a little further away than is comfortable to them. Visit the school that is in their hometown because it’s different to actually experience it, than to just think they know about it.
Try to visit one college from each of these categories to give your child a good variety to choose from. They won’t know until they try what might be a good fit! Plus, it’s fun to see all their different choices.
Essays can be tweaked for each situation as needed. One essay that your teen needs to write is, “What are your plans for the future?” Most schools want to know this information in some form or another. It is a good way for your child to actually think about this, and get their thoughts in order.
Tell them when filling out applications and writing essays that they need to be honest and thoughtful. There will be questions that will cause them to really think, and there will be others that seem ridiculous. Most questions are asked for a certain reason, so your child should think and answer carefully.
Monica Matthews has a great guide for writing essays and preparing awesome scholarship packages. Check it out here!
Get Letters of Recommendation
This is a step that should not be ignored. Go to teachers that have been supportive. Tell your child to really foster good relationships with their teachers throughout high school, so that when they ask a teacher for a recommendation, it’s not a big surprise! This is a big one for answering that question, “How do I apply to college?”
Update Your Resume
A resume is a great way to put all accomplishments together in one place. This can be emailed to colleges as your teen applies to college. My friend, Loren Kelly, has great tips for updating and maintaining resumes! Check her out here.
Search the College Website
Go back to each college’s website. Look carefully through each tab. Search through student life, take a virtual tour of the campus, look at the available clubs and activities.
Google the nearby town to find out information about the size and what is available to do outside of school since it is where they would be living. Again, visit colleges if it is at all possible! Some tips for visiting colleges are here.
I hope that this answered your teen’s question, “How do I apply to college?”
Your child should do everything that that they can to inform themselves about each college as a possibility. This way, when it comes time to really decide where they will end up, they can make an informed decision with all the pertinent facts. This way, when they ask, “How do I apply for college?”, they now know some facts to start this process.
Do you find yourself yelling at your kids all the time? Are they ignoring you? Do they spend all of their time on games and other devices? Have they stopped showing you any respect? We have gone through all of this and more with our boys. Here is some hard-won advice that might hopefully help as you move through these years with teen discipline.
*I talked with one of my boys last night as I was finishing this post. We talked about a time a few years back when we caught him sneaking out, lying to us about some things, and drinking with some older boys. I asked him what he thought about us taking his phone away and cracking down on his activities at that time.
He thought about this and said, “Mom, that was the best thing you all did for me. I was really mad at the time, but you guys were right. When I was little, you all were pretty strict, but I really thought all that stuff would be fun. I was glad you took the choice away from me because it was kind of getting scary.”
Looking back on that time, we thought that we were paying attention! One comment from a friend who saw an unfamiliar car parked near our house was enough for us to figure things out. It takes a village!
Please remember that good discipline takes time, work and consistency! *This post may contain affiliate links. This means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase.
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If you have not been consistent (this is the hardest thing!) as a parent, or haven’t had much luck enforcing rules, it will be challenging to turn things around, but not impossible. Here are a few strategies to think about.
First things first. As soon as you decide that you want, and/or need to discipline your teen, then you will need a plan. Get on the same page as your spouse or significant other, or on a similar page in order to work together. If not, then your teen will sense that the adults in their lives disagree, and they will use this to their advantage every time!
Pay attention to everything. If there are any little signs, then investigate. The example of us above is proof that you never know. Parenting teens is not for the faint of heart, you will have to be vigilant and strong. We never thought our boys were angels, but that was a very humbling time as a parent. I am so grateful to that friend for making her observation. Teen discipline is not for the faint of heart.
Decide what your rules will be. They need to be simple and few. We have had the same 2 rules for years, really since they were in elementary school.
Obey first time with a smile on your face. (In other words with a good attitude.)
Be respectful. 2A. No arguing or bickering, no matter who started it!
That’s it for us. If you think about it, these cover all of the little stuff anyway. They are simple to learn, and you don’t get bogged down with lots of little rules. 2A came about as an addendum to the area of respect– regarding siblings. For some reason this needed to be spelled out in our house. Grab our printable rules below.
The Only 2 1/2 rules you need! Discipline is easier with a plan.[/caption]
(Some behaviors can be dealt with by using a contract. These would include driving, cell phone use, gaming time, dating curfews etc. This will be addressed in a future blog post.)
Share the Plan
Once you have established your rules, then these need to be discussed as a family and one-on-one with each child to make sure that they understand the new plan. Write down some examples of disrespect that you don’t want to see (or hear) anymore. Don’t call anyone out on these examples, since probably until now, there has been no rule in place or you have been inconsistent in requiring their respect.
The goal is to let everyone know where you now stand, not to pick on anyone in particular. (Of course, if you have an only child, then try to be sure that you don’t overwhelm to start.) This is the time to explain what you want, but also to give your teen(s) a chance to talk about what might be going on in their lives and to ask questions about the new policy.
The best strategy for teen discipline is with simplicity and consistency. Not easy!
This is where the rubber meets the road. You, as parents, have to say what you mean, and mean what you say! At all times. By the way, it is your right as a parent to say NO–about anything! There cannot be a day where you give in because your teens will be testing to see if you will give in! That is how teenagers are made.
Josh Shipp makes a great analogy saying that kids push and push and push, as if against a safety bar on a roller coaster. Not to see if the safety bar (parents) will give in, but to see if you will hold firm–so that they can feel safe. This is exhausting to say the least, but gradually as your kids see that you really do mean what you say, then they might ease up, but most likely just to push you in another area. I feel your pain! The more consistent you are with teen discipline, the more success you will have.
Teens have so many things going on in their lives right now. Changes to their bodies, new schools, hormones are raging, friendships constantly evolving, social media issues, as well as news from the world around them that are all scary things in their lives. They need to know that they can count on us to be strong. They need to know that we will be there through the good and the bad.
Check in regularly
Be involved, but not nosy. Ask questions, be interested, give them a chance to share. Don’t push too hard. Try to remember what your life was like when you were a teen. You didn’t tell your parents everything, so don’t expect it from your kids!
A great time to talk is after school when they’re eating a snack– I like to keep lots of leftovers and snacky foods around for the boys. I try to be available at this time to hang in the kitchen with them. Of course, if they have any evening activities, they always come home hungry after those, too. So, that’s another good time to talk.
Talk With Your Teen- Find The Time That Works For Them!
Evaluate what works and what doesn’t. Some kids like time alone when they get home, and others are ready to spill their day out right then. If no time seems to work for them, tell them that you would like a few minutes to chat and to let you know what time works best.
Car rides are good for either talking or listening, especially if you’re the carpool mom. They are on their phones, of course, but not always. I try to keep my music low, and listen for little tidbits here and there. You never know what you might learn. I have a basket for cell phones which I occasionally use to encourage talking and not texting with my passengers! (Keep snacks in the car for those days that you don’t have time to go home between activities!)
After lights out is one of our favorite times to talk with the boys! The dark is such a comfortable and non-threatening place for heart-to-heart conversations. Keep it calm and just listen. Try not to jump to conclusions, but ask open ended questions, present ideas, and mostly give them the floor. They will say so many things in the dark, that might be impossible in the light of day.
Give them space
A big part of being a teenager is trying to figure everything out. They need time to be alone–to think, to chill, to just have time to process what is going on in their life. This is a natural part of growing up.
The rule in our house is no locked doors, and if a door is closed, then knocking is required, even for us as parents to enter their rooms. This is a sign of respect on both sides. There are certain times that we want them to be with us as a family, like mealtimes (when we are actually all home at the same time).
Also, if we want a family night for a movie or a game, we talk about when this works for everyone’s schedule. They have jobs and homework, so a lot of times, it doesn’t happen until weekends. I take what I can get these days since our middle son is getting ready to leave for college at the end of the summer.
If you notice that your teen is starting to spend a lot of time in their room, and it’s not for studying or a quick nap, then you need to have a conversation with him or her. This is one of those times to tread carefully. No accusations. Try gentle questions.
Make their favorite meal and try to get some one-on-one time before it becomes a problem. This goes for gaming as well! A good rule to have is no Wi-Fi password until homework, reading, chores or whatever are finished.
Stay the course
These years are the time to really keep your radar fine tuned for changes in behavior that are alarming. There will be changes, no doubt, but not all are bad. Keeping the lines of communication open are key so that your relationship doesn’t become adversarial. (Obviously, there will be times that are rocky, but hang in there, and remember how much stress is in their lives. Step away for awhile, but come back to disagreements at a different time.)
Teen discipline is NOT easy! I think that these years with our boys have been really hard, but really rewarding! We have come out on the other side with one so far, and our second son is getting ready to leave for college in the fall. These 2 older boys have pushed us and tried things that we were not ready for, and there have been some really challenging times as parents.
Our youngest son might be the biggest challenge so far, and we are weary. But, we will continue to try our best to be consistent and stay the course. He will keep us on our toes I am sure!
My friends and I have been there for each other through the years and miles as different situations have occurred with our kids. Find a good friend that you can lean on for support as you wade through this challenging time. It is so much better when you can commiserate with someone who is going through the same or similar situations.
Do you have any good ideas that have worked for your family regarding teen discipline?
I would love to have you share for my readers to learn from!
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