A careless car accident. An incriminating post on Instagram or Facebook. Cheating on a test. Drinking alcohol or taking drugs with “friends.” In every family with a teenager, something disappointing is bound to happen. No matter how many rules you have in place or how many conversations you’ve had with them, your teen will make a foolish or rebellious decision.
Now if you want to make sure that they learn absolutely nothing from their bad decisions, I’ve got some really solid suggestions. These reactions, or overreactions, will make it easy for your teen to ignore you, ignore the situation, and ignore any valuable lesson they might have taken from the experience.
1. Act like it’s No Big Deal and Just Let it Go.
Maybe you’re just relieved that they’re not in a jail, a hospital, or a morgue, so you just drop the whole thing. You think that’s just what teens do. I mean, you did the same kind of things as a teen and you survived, right? You say, “Why make a mountain out of a mole hill?” Well, the problem with that kind of thinking is when teens don’t learn from their mistakes, they may get through it this time, but what about when they do it again?
2. Show More Concern for Things Than for Them.
If they were in an accident, be sure that you ask about the condition of the car, the other car, or the property they hit. Be sure to ask about the value and condition of anything they may have damaged as you consider your possible liability and financial impact long before you ask how they are doing. This will help them to see that money and things are more important than them and other people.
3. Don’t Talk About Their Bad Decision and What Might Have Happened.
The less your teen thinks about what might have happened, the less good judgment they’ll have next time.When addressing the situation, just get angry and yell at them. Why talk it out? They’re not going to listen anyway. So don’t discuss what they did wrong and why it was wrong. The less your teen thinks about their poor judgment and what might have happened, the less good judgment they’ll have the next time a sticky situation comes up.
4. Protect Them from the Consequences.
This is a big one. If more poor choices by your teen is your goal, then be absolutely sure to protect them from any painful, uncomfortable, expensive, or embarrassing consequences. This will let your teen know that they can do pretty much what they want, when they want, to whom they want, and never experience any correction.
Want to teach your teens how to make tough decisions well? Model this.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Have you ever treated things like they were more important than people?”