What Kids Need: Personal Standards

In this series, I have been addressing What Kids Need in their lives to be resilient in their thinking, choices, values, integrity, and friendships.  In this post, I will talk about a favorite topic of mine, Personal Standards.  It doesn’t take very long for a young person to figure out that their parents do not agree on something which they desire to do in their life.  Once they find that weak spot in parenting, they can push the limits until one day they find themselves in trouble.  Parents must agree on the standards for which they wish their kids to adhere to in their lives.  Take time with all of the adults that are a part of your young person’s life to sit down and all agree on the standards to which you want the child to live.  If it takes a bit of time to hash out, then please do that, and do that away from the child.  That should be a conversation that just adults have, and they all agree to uphold.  Parents need to stand together on essential issues.  There cannot be a situation that says, well, while he is at your house then you can allow that, but I’m not doing that.  That really doesn’t work for kids, and eventually, in difficult times they will pick the more easy parent to be with, and the other is often left out.  Standing together on issues will give consistency to their requests in certain areas as well as helping them to know how you expect them to behave in various situations.

In my book, Making Sense of Life: A Guidebook for Teens & Parents, I have many situations to review with your young person in advance to anticipate some of the things that they will face.  At the end of each chapter are Questions for Parents and Questions for Teens, which will facilitate discussion between everyone.  When adults take time to work with kids to be sure that the kids understand the standards, you are much more likely to see consistent behavior in them.  Take time to review the standards and adjust them as needed.  As kids get older rules may change or loosen a bit.  Check with them and encourage their feedback.  Let them know why you’re holding firm on a specific rule so that they can understand why in the long run it is crucial.

When you take time to talk with them and also to get their feedback, everyone’s understanding raises.  Ideally, all the adults in the young person’s life should be present so that everyone is receiving the same information live.  If you are in doubt as to how to respond, please feel free to email me at rich@pattersonphd.com.  I will be happy to give you some advice and offer some talking points.  Having standards for our kids is so vital with all of the distractions of social media and the many other variations in families and parenting.  To ensure that you kids are what you want them to be, don’t leave things to chance, take time to sit and talk with them regularly and encourage them to give you their understanding of a particular rule or standard.

This process can be a lot of fun.  I challenge each of you to take time to set some conduct standards and articulate them clearly to your child at their developmentally appropriate level.

Yours for Better Parenting,

Rich