Determining Who Makes the Final Decision with Kids of All Ages
Before engaging in solving a problem involving your teen, it is very important to first determine who will be making the final decision on what solution to choose. Will it be you, your teen or the both of you together? Whoever owns the problem; the one who is most directly affected by the problem, will be the one who is responsible for deciding on the solution.
Teens get very upset when they own the problem and adults want to come up with the solution rather than letting them work through the problem solving process. When teens own the problem, your job is to lend support rather than give the solution. Often it isn’t clear who should make the final decision until you first gather information to clarify the problem. Michael Popkin, PhD. gives us three questions to answer to determine who should make the final decision.
We can usually determine who owns a problem by asking three questions.
- Whom is the problem directly affecting? Decide this by asking 1) who is most concerned or upset about the issue or 2) who brings up the problem and wants to find a solution to their unmet goals or needs?
- Does the problem involve health, safety, family rules or values? If so, the parent has the final decision on how to solve the problem. This involves parents setting the final limits.
- Is the problem within reasonable limits for the teen’s age and level of maturity? If it is, the parent supports the teen’s process of brainstorming possible solutions and the teen makes the final decision. Parents maintain an “it’s up to you” supportive attitude in order for the teen to learn how to self-reflect and build self-confidence to handle life’s struggles. If not, the parent steps in and decides how to solve it.
So, next time you want to tell your kids what to do and they get upset, stop to analyze who should make the final decision, you, your teenager, or both of you together
.©2013 Cynthia Klein has been a Certified Parent Educator since 1994. She works with dads, moms and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between adults and children of all ages. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking, webinars, and private parent coaching sessions. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and writes the Middle School Mom column for the magazine Parenting on the Peninsula. Contact Cynthia at bridges 2 understanding, bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com or call 650. 341.0779.