How to teach your child to make good decisions on their own

Stephen Gray Wallace, MS Ed School Psychologist & Author shares advice for parents on how to teach their teenage child how to make good decisions on their own
How To Teach Kids To Make Good Decisions On Their Own
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How to teach your child to make good decisions on their own

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Stephen Wallace: Well, children tells us that zero-tolerance policies are most effective for certain behaviors such as illegal behaviors. We know that they appreciate the open dialogue, the open question, the give and take, the back and forth about decision making that perhaps isn’t illegal such as sexual behavior. Part of the job of the parent or a caring adult is to help young people move from having an extra or locus of control whereby we’re telling them what they’re supposed to do. To them, developing an internal locus of control and they start to self-regulate. And we can do that by asking them questions. What do you think is right for you? Using the I statements. I understand there are a lot of children your age who are engaging in sexual behavior, what do you think about that? What’s right for you at this time in your life? How do you think that might change over the next few years? What choices do you want to make and how can I support you as your parent? Through research we’ve developed an understanding of the 4 Primary Parenting Styles. The first one is indulgent, wherein we indulge our kids. Probably more than we should. The second is authoritarian. My way or the highway. The third is authoritative, which involves a lot more give and take and a lot more dialogue. And the fourth is uninvolved, which means parents just walk away from their parenting roles. Of those styles, the authoritative is the most effective. It’s high on what we call the demanding list, which means expectation, clarifications and rules but it’s also high on responsiveness, which is support and dialogue and conversation. That’s a very important style to try to replicate when you’re talking with your children about the expectations and rules.

Stephen Gray Wallace, MS Ed School Psychologist & Author shares advice for parents on how to teach their teenage child how to make good decisions on their own

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Stephen Gray Wallace, MS Ed

School Psychologist & Author

Stephen Gray Wallace, director of the Center for Adolescent Research and Education (CARE), has broad experience as a school psychologist and adolescent and family counselor. He is also the senior advisor for policy, research, and education at SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), an organization he served as national chairman and chief executive officer for more than fifteen years. 

Stephen serves the Cape Cod Sea Camps as a resident camp director and the director of counseling and counselor training and the American Camp Association as a feature magazine writer, media spokesperson and faculty member at its e-Institute for Professional Development, a role he also plays for the American Academy of Family Physicians.

The White House, the American Camp Association, SADD, Camping Magazine, and the Susquehanna University Alumni Association have formally honored Stephen for being a tireless and passionate advocate for youth.

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