Let’s Talk

Rebellious Children – Part 2

Q. What are some more ideas for parents of rebellious children?

A. Let’s Talk! We left off the last post talking about the atmosphere in the home and the goal of better relationships and consensus to dial down rebellion. Let’s go right to one of the hardest discussions in a family: the rules, chores, routines, and—oops—what happens when these are not followed. Remember, though, that the outcome is not more important than the relationships and the messages you are giving in the process.

So, you ask for a family meeting and ask if all would be willing to help create the family goals, rules (I prefer the term agreements), chores, and how to handle agreements not followed. Future weekly family meetings are more about how the week is going, et cetera.

The family goals, rules, and chores are a consensus of core beliefs. You will want to linger the longest there as your family creates them at your first family meeting, which sets the environment. Examples are: we choose to respect others, and we purpose to take responsibility for our actions and decisions and not make excuses. Help make it a pleasant activity! Write down all suggestions so all feel heard and keep asking for feedback as you facilitate a final version. This is an important step because everything else hinges on it.

The next discussion in the meeting is to decide on the consequences when family members choose not to follow the agreements just created. [This is most often called punishment, but I’m asking you to consider a different term!] Ask all family members what they think certain consequences should be for choosing to not follow the various agreements. You will be shocked! Invariably, the children choose stiffer consequences than you would choose. Now negotiate in love until you reach a great agreement.

Once you’ve established an agreement, you can simply reference as your family moves forward and make adjustments as needed. A wise statement is to communicate to all in the family that if someone has a better idea to share it during the family meetings. You as parent get the final say, of course, but do you hear the love and openness and flexibility? There is less rebellion when a child of any age feels heard.

For Deeper Reflection

Philippians 4: 8 “[W]hatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com