Teens learning a lesson vs. ruining their future

Educator Michael Riera, PhD, shares advice for parents on how to balance letting your teenage child make mistakes while not allowing them to mess up enough to ruin their future
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Teens learning a lesson vs. ruining their future

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It's tricky when kids make mistakes. Parents often want to jump in there and save the day for them. It's actually a pretty big mistake. What you want to do is, you don't want to abandon your kids, but you want to be there for them and trust that they are going to learn from their mistakes. As they go through it, the upset, the anger, sometimes the grief, you are just there to support them. What you are really trying to convey is an idea from psychology, positive expectancy. That you are looking at them in a way that says, I know you are going to figure this out. I know you are going to learn from this. Let them go along with it. The worst thing a parent can do -- We do this all the time. I do it myself, and I know better -- is, "I told you so." "I told you that you shouldn't have done that," which takes away all the lesson. Instead, we want to be there, more like a silent witness than anything else. Then, kind of, physical support. You know, tap them on the back, scoop them a dish of ice cream, something to help them work through it themselves. The deal is, if they don't work it through themselves, then they become dependent on you. While that feels good in the moment -- It's a good idea if you want your kid to live with you when they are 40 years old. The challenge is, help them with the support. Give them the space and the time, and they begin to learn from them.

Educator Michael Riera, PhD, shares advice for parents on how to balance letting your teenage child make mistakes while not allowing them to mess up enough to ruin their future

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Michael Riera, PhD

Head Of School, Brentwood School

Michael Riera, PhD, Educator, Author, Media Personality, and Speaker. Michael Riera is the Head of School at the Brentwood School, best-selling author, award-winning columnist, educator, television commentator, and national speaker on issues of children, adolescents, families, and parenting. Mike is the author of Right From Wrong: instilling a Sense of integrity in Our Children, Field Guide to the American Teenager, Uncommon Sense For Parents With Teenagers, and Surviving High School. His most recent book, Staying Connected To Your Teenager, was launched with three appearances on Oprah! For eight years he was the Family Consultant for CBS The Saturday Morning Early Show and also hosted an award winning television show on the Oxygen Network, Life in Progress, as well as his own daily radio show, Family Talk with Dr. Mike. Mike has worked in schools for over 20 years as a head of school, counselor, dean of students, teacher and consultant. 

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