Eva Carlston Academy
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Parents of Teens: You Are Still Teachers

When kids are young, you, as a parent, easily and naturally take on the role of teacher. You show your five-year-old how to look both ways before crossing the street; you demonstrate to your six-year-old how to tie their shoes; you model to your two-year-old how to share a toy or say, “please.” Parents teach these skills over, and over, never thinking twice about it, except to occasionally wonder how many more times you will have to review, “how to get dressed in the morning.” Now, you are faced with a teenager. She can dress herself, occasionally says “please,” and (hopefully) looks before crossing the street. She is relatively independent and frankly, may not want your help. So, you step back, or you are pushed away.  

Our treatment model utilizes strategies that are also taught to parents in the Customized Objectives, Realistic Expectations (CORE) Parenting Program. Parents then have the unique opportunity to actively teach to their daughters using concepts and language the students are already familiar with. Parents learn teaching strategies like preventive teaching, in which parents clearly express their expectations prior to a situation that is new for their daughter or one in which problems arose in the past. Parents also learn effective praise, which includes specifically describing the positive behavior. Reinforcing positive and effective behaviors in this way makes it more likely they will occur again in the future. 

Parents feel the value of participating in the CORE Program. One parent stated, “The fact that the strategies I’m using to teach to my daughter aren’t new to her is really helpful and I feel more confident when I’m doing it.” Another student’s parents remarked, “We’ve always praised our daughter. Now that praise is more specific and we can see it motivate her to do more. We’d never thought of praise as a tool before.” The students recognize how their parents’ work benefits them, too: “At first I thought it was weird because my mom sounded a little like staff. But she’s also much more consistent and holds me accountable. I don’t always like it in the moment, but I also know it’s the right thing for me. I couldn’t have said that a year ago.”

The teen years are difficult to navigate at best, and we help parents learn to see how vital their role as teachers is during this time. Parents, no longer teaching their toddler how to brush her teeth, can help teens utilize problem-solving skills, teach them how to ask for help, how to be assertive, how to deal with failure, or to discuss their feelings in an appropriate and effective way. Parents are an important part of the bridge between treatment and the “real world.” Parents of teens are teachers.