The Science of Parenting

Teen Traits | S.7 Ep.6

November 11, 2021 Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Season 7 Episode 6
The Science of Parenting
Teen Traits | S.7 Ep.6
Show Notes Transcript

How do temperament traits play out in teens and pre-teens? They face hormone changes, friend drama, risk-taking, and more… all while dealing with their “factory settings.” Hear how we can help our teens balance their temperament with their daily environment!

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Mackenzie Johnson:

Hey, welcome to The Science of Parenting podcast, where we connect you with research based information that fits your family. We'll talk about the realities of being a parent and how research can help guide our parenting decisions. I'm Mackenzie Johnson, parent of two littles with their own quirks. And I'm a parenting educator.

Lori Korthals:

And I'm Lori Korthals, parent of three in two different life stages. Two are launched and one is in high school and I am a parenting educator. And today we are continuing our conversation on temperament and child development milestones. We are all the way up to adolescence, preteens, teens, those ages.

Mackenzie Johnson:

How did we get here so fast?

Lori Korthals:

I don't know. But here we are. And this season, what we've been doing is taking a look at the different ages of children and the stages and milestones that they go through kind of like we did in season three, or in season five, right? Yeah, and then taking season three temperaments and mashing it all together, and specifically talking about what do our temperament traits look like in teens and preteens or in infants and toddlers? So I've enjoyed this season. I like taking a deeper dive in both of those areas at one time.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Oh, yeah, it is. It's fun. And so we get to look at these different temperament traits and how we see them play out with our preteens and teens. So before we dig into that, of course, I gotta tell you the reminder that parenting is a bi-directional process, which every parenting textbook has told me that I've ever looked at, but in particular, talking about Dr. Diana Lange's book, Parenting and Families in Diverse Contexts, and so thinking about that we influence our kids. But we also know that our kids influence us, their temperament, their health status, their gender, their birth order, all of these different things that are unique about each of our children. They also influence how we parent so it's not as simple as I'm a parent, I do unto you. Right? Not always. That temperament is a big influence, and that influences us as parents.

Lori Korthals:

It is absolutely and so a reminder about what temperament is, we talked about this last time as it is our factory settings, right? It's that thing on our phone we do to get everything back to ground zero, right? It is our natural tendencies, the way we can predict our children's behavior is based on what we gave them genetically. I love that Mary Sheedy Kurcinka talks about this as a way to predict and provide ourselves opportunities to learn how to manage our responses and our children's responses. So yeah, genes are the template and the environment and the people around us kind of give us those opportunities to learn and grow.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, and I will forever love that, like the factory settings, word picture of temperaments. It's there, it's in the background, we build on it, we write, we build skills, the environment influences us, right? If people have trauma, all these different layers that are on top of our temperament, but it's there in the background, both patterns of behavior and interaction.

Lori Korthals:

It is and really, it's that idea of patterns and predictability. Does that mean that we just succumb to them? No, we know the pattern, it's predictable. So how can we learn and grow and move on from it? So yes, specifically this week. How can we learn and grow as we look at adolescents and teens?

Mackenzie Johnson:

What age defines that for us? Right? We've got to start there.

Lori Korthals:

Yes, yes, absolutely. I will almost get right by that. But the age we're looking at is going to be that preteen all the way through teenage years. So it's 12 to 17, in there. And I know it's a big age span. But that's how we're going to do it because there's so much conversation that we can have during these years. That's why we're bringing them all together. But the CDC Milestone Tracker is what we've been utilizing as we look at milestones and it talks about this is a time period of a lot of different physical, mental and emotional as well as social changes. So of course, we know that human hormones and puberty happen during this time. And so on top of those physical and mental and emotional changes, we do have this hormonal change and boys might grow facial hair. Boys might grow pubic hair. Boys voices will deepen. Additionally, girls might grow breasts and start their period. And they might face some different types of peer pressure when it comes to how these changes make them look.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Oh, absolutely, and we know, in addition, there's a lot of physical changes that happen here, as their bodies change towards adulthood. But yeah, all of the situations that brings with it, because there's so much physical change they can be self-conscious about how they appear to others and about how they interact. So you're so right, that peer pressure to do things like drink alcohol, use tobacco products, drugs, even risky sexual behavior can really be a part of the challenges that teens face. And preteens to other things, because of this time period and development they're in, they can be at risk for things like depression, or eating disorders, or you know that family issues can be a part of this, because as they strive for their independence, it can create conflict, a new kinds of conflict for us between our parents and our teens and preteens. We do also know that, right? The independence, the making their own choices, what clothing they wear, what music they listen to, what food they eat, all of those things, they start to get a lot more independence and want more choice over the kind of things that pertain to them personally. They do. They're going to spend more time with their friends. And this is one of my favorite things of research that I love to reassure parents with, okay, yes, teens, the importance of their friends increases in their life, that does not mean the importance of their parents decreases. Parents stay solid, they've been a solid relationship, hopefully, and friends increase, but it doesn't make parents any less important. They still stay very important. And kids really come to their parents in those difficult times, even through the teenage years.

Lori Korthals:

Absolutely, they still do and all of that independence is really a way that they are working on that idea of who am I? What is my identity? And as we look at the teen and adolescent years, that's kind of that whole milestone that they're really working on. So that independence tied into this independence will help me create who I am as a person. And I think that is so important for parents to remember. That idea is constantly in the back of their mind, who am I in this world? And where do I want to be as a person?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. And that separation of when they're little kids and that parents' values are just basically automatically kids' values. That distinction of teens and preteens starting to separate out a little bit can be hard for parents. It can feel like a rebellion. But really, it's a matter of them finding themselves. Not a matter of them thinking you're stupid, though at times, they may express that sentiment. But it's really a matter of them trying to figure out who am I separate from my parents, right? Because even though they might be 14, as they move into 20, 24 34, yada, yada, they'll be their own person separate from you. And they've got to figure out what those values that they have are.

Lori Korthals:

Yes, absolutely. And I think that kind of rolls right into the piece that Dr. Lange reminds us about Thomas and Chess' research, and they're the temperament gurus that we follow. And they really talk a lot about goodness of fit. And so that idea of goodness of fit is the adult caregiver, the parent, the adult in the child's life, how can they begin to adjust and adapt to that child's natural factory setting, right, and begin to have a good fit with that factory setting, helping the child learn about their temperament, helping parents learn about their own temperament, and the way that those two temperaments come together, in sort of like a dance, right? And so if we can adapt and adjust to those two temperaments coming together, that's what Thomas and Chess call a good fit. And that's what we work and strive for. As I think about that, I really love the idea of thinking about temperament and teens as this opportunity to finally have this really great open conversation about why they do what they do. Yes?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, those tendencies that you've spent the first 12 years of their life noticing in their temperament or if you're just getting on board now, awesome. You still see those patterns play out at 15. ou get to use that to help the understand themselves a little ore.

Lori Korthals:

Absolutely. Absolutely. All right, so should we pull together the nine traits?

Mackenzie Johnson:

And I do want to add one thought, actually an aha that I had this weekend. I was listening to an audio book and a part of it, a very good audio book, but a part of it was this mother daughter relationship. And it talked about going from a little girl into the teen years or whatever. And seeing a part of it was a reflection of that mother when she had been a teen and how similar they were. And I couldn't help but think, you both have a spirited feisty temperament. You're both clashing on your persistence, or whatever it might be. But I thought, you know, thinking about knowing we'd be getting ready to have this conversation around teens and temperament. I just thought, the insight that would be able to offer those characters, but it does give us as parents temperament is an insight when it feels like, what is going on with our teen? You know, so often, that's the question. Parents are like, ah, they're a totally different person. And it's like, temperament is going to be there, it's gonna be the factory setting, you're still gonna understand your kid, that gives you that insight. So yeah, I'm excited to walk through these traits and talk about that insight.

Lori Korthals:

Alright, so we will lump some of them together because of this stage of being able to share with our kids about their temperament. So where we really separated them out before as children have grown, we're going to kind of lump some together because they really mesh and blend, particularly in these teen years.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. So let's start with that activity level, that's the one we like to kind of kick off with. And so thinking about, remember, with a temperament trait, everybody gets it. It's a question of, did they get a little or did they get a lot or are they somewhere in the middle? And so we tend to talk about those extremes of a little or a lot. And so with a teen that is less active, they're probably more apt to take those breaks to slow down, to enjoy those periods of rest, right? A little more chill in terms of how much movement they have, versus your more active teen that wants to always be on the go, wants to be out and about. But I always like to give the caveat. I have a low activity level and I was a four sport athlete. So it's not a matter of kids that have a low activity level won't be involved in things or won't be active. But it can be different in terms of what feels natural for their body. After that big movement, do they feel invigorated, ready to go? After that big movement, do they feel ready for some rest? Wanted to give you that insight that more active kids may enjoy the hop, hop hop from different activities, but less active kids can too, it just might be the breaks might be a little different.

Lori Korthals:

Exactly. And I love that hop, hop, hop idea. In my head, I'm looking at my own children who have different activity levels, how did they recharge. One child with lower activity level recharged by sitting quietly. The next child, she recharged by taking a slower paced walk. She just was still active, but it was a different type of recharge. Yeah. Okay, so I'll take the next two. And the next two we are going to put together so approach withdrawal, that response to the very first initial reaction to something new. And adaptability, how long does it take to make that adaptation. As we look at teens, and again, their independence and identity, thinking about involving themselves with other friend groups in new activities. It's the beginning of the school year, possibly at some point in time, right. New classes, new teachers, and especially with teens this age, it's important to really talk to them about their approach withdrawal or their activity level, because as they're in their friend groups, they might be driving their friends crazy. Or they might be really irritating their friends or their friends might really be irritating them, right? So if you're a withdrawing or less approaching teen, you might not be interested in going to the brand new restaurant that just opened or you might not be interested in having new friends join your friend group and that might be irritating to your friends or vice versa. They could be irritated by you, right, stop inviting people into our friend group. Adaptability says that less adaptable teen that might just take them longer to be comfortable with those ideas. And so I just want to say that the less adaptable less approaching teen, they're actually not going to be a child who's typically a high risk taker. Versus the approaching teen and the adaptable teen. This is your spontaneous kid who's saying, hey, this looks like fun. This looks like something I should do. And they might be constantly searching tic toc for things that they want to try. And so recognizing and helping your teen recognize if they are adaptable and approaching, we might need to help them think through the entire scenario so that they understand what are the consequences if I do this high risk activity and something happens. So those highly adaptable, approachable teens, they may not put all the puzzle pieces together and think about the consequences at the end.

Mackenzie Johnson:

They won't heed caution automatically. It might be a skill they have to be taught.

Lori Korthals:

Versus the other child who is a planner, they look at all the puzzle pieces before they start to put the picture together. So you've got the risk taker and the planner.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, yes. All right, and then two more, our intensity and sensitivity. Now, if you've listened to our podcast before you know I love intensity. I am very intense. So an intense teen or preteen, honestly, I think of you're going to notice the hormone surges in an intense teen or preteen. You're going to notice that mood and how it can shift because with an intense person, it's on their sleeves. It is expressed. It is felt strongly. I think of the door slamming. Which for some parents is a trigger. And so that will probably be your more intense teen. Versus your less intense teen might be the one where you're like, I think something's up but I don't know what's going on. You don't automatically know. They seem a little off. It's a subtle, right? It's harder to pick up on because it's not expressed as strongly. Or it can be the child that seems unruffled, that's the word that I want. Yes. Oh, like, okay, like, that's not that big of a deal. Yes, the unruffled teen. Versus when we think about sensitivity, that's a little different. Often on our podcast, we talk about it in terms of the sensory sensitivity, like with the five senses. But we also want to think about that emotional sensitivity, that's also a part of temperament. And so thinking about how sensitive your child is to things like feeling left out, right? Do you have a child that feels that really intensely and strongly in their hearts? This breaks them up. Or are they kind of like, well, you know, maybe they're missing out on the cues their friends are giving them like, no, I think maybe your friends are trying to say this. They're maybe not catching the subtle as much as someone who is more sensitive.

Lori Korthals:

Yes, yes. And again, being able to help identify for them the temperament traits and where they fall on the continuum. super important. So then I'm going to add on distractibility and persistence. And again, thinking about building their identity, right? Who am I in this world? Distractible kids, persistent kids, less distractible, less persistent, think about homework. Think about task completion, chores, sports teams, expectations from teachers and coaches. That less distractible child happens to maybe also be persistent. They are zeroed in, locked in, focused. They're gonna debate with you, argue with you, stick to their position and idea, right? And so as we think about that and creating identity, who am I with my friends, you know, they might find that they get into more arguments with their friends or their friend argues more with them and you can talk with them about, you know, persistence and non-distractible thinking and I love what you talk about when you talk about your daughter and how can we have flexible thinking? If we are persistent and not distractible, how can we have more flexible thinking? We were chatting earlier and you were sharing an example about talking through, well, it's just a different way to think. It's not wrong. And how many times I can think of my persistent not distractible daughter saying, that is not right. What my friend said is not right. And I have to think, okay, well, they're just thinking differently from you. Yeah. Yeah, you know, and it's hard because they're, again, they're working on identity. So the child who is distractible and not persistent, you know, that might also be an issue in their friend group because that child, you know, maybe never completes their tasks or they have a group project at school and that person inevitably doesn't complete their section. And the number of times I can hear my own daughter say, that person didn't do their part of the project and that's not fair. Yeah, and it's temperament. Right. And so being able to talk with her about the different temperaments and how she can acknowledge and recognize that she can't change theirs but she can manage her own.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Oh, absolutely. And I love that distractibility and persistence pairing because sometimes you get a little of both or a lot of both. But then there's also the half and half, right? So highly distractible, low persistence, okay. Maybe they don't complete a task very easily. Or their high persistence, right. But it's interesting how they play out and mismatch those two. Yes. And that does bring us to our last two which we tend to wrap up with these two, regularity and mood. I think maybe it's cuz they just hang out in the background. Yeah. You know, I think regularity and mood are just kind of like hanging out. So in our teens, as we think about regularity, that's kind of that eat, sleep, poop. That's what we used to say when they're babies. Yeah, true, still true. And into adulthood is still true. Right? Do you have one that's a little more all over the map versus like clockwork? This could be your kid who you're like, hey, yes, it is fun. I know, your friends are starting to stay up a lot more. You are a kid who struggles if you don't get enough sleep. And sometimes, for regular adults even, I have friends that are like, okay, yeah, I'd like to hang out. But I have to go to bed. I have to. Because they're regular and their body's tired. Yeah, you know, versus that all over the map of like, oh, I could stay and hang out, oh, well, I'll maybe be a little tired but maybe I'll bounce back. They're just all over the map. You just can't be sure.

Lori Korthals:

So I have a super fun story from this weekend. And it's interesting because my daughter has grown up with temperament. Right? So she knows she's very irregular. We plan for this. But she recognized how her irregularity had kind of caught up with her. She has had a series of very, very busy three weeks, right? And so at one point in the weekend, and she had some friends say, hey, let's have a sleepover. Let's all get together and she said yes. A couple hours later, she told them, you know what? This isn't gonna work. I actually need some sleep tonight. And I'm going to pull back on my invite for y'all to sleep over. And I mean, I was literally speec less. I was so proud of her for recognizing that her irregular emperament has been on let's g , go, go, go, go. I'm fine. I m good to go. And then all of a sudden, boom, she's like, you know what? I need to tak some time. super proud that sh could recognize that in h rself. Yes, yes.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Okay. And I gotta ask, would you say this child is sensitive or less sensitive?

Lori Korthals:

Um, she's less, I would say she's less sensitive. And so it was okay. You know, she was okay with whatever their response was. Where I can see, you know, if she had been more sensitive, she might have done it anyway because she didn't want to hurt their feelings.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Well, and I'm also thinking in terms of I, as someone who is also less sensitive and irregular, I'm not quick to get in tune with my body's cues so I would say yes. And then later, oh, I'm realizing how tired I am. Yeah. And it's like, I wasn't paying close enough attention because I'm not sensitive to those things. And yes, if she's a little less sensitive, I could see how that tiredness was sneaking by her. Oh, I'm tired. I've got to sleep.

Lori Korthals:

Yeah, super proud that she was brave enough to say, you know what, I know I invited y'all to stay over but y'all are staying home.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Like, sorry, you can't come. I love that. Well, and then our last one is mood. And so you know, we do think about the nature of teens is moodiness, right? There's hormones. There's a lot of angst and frustration, because it's hard to figure out who you are. It's hard to navigate these relationships and have so much change happening around you during this very formative part of your life. And so we know that with that higher mood tend to be more chipper and cheery. And so in teens, when there's a negative mood, it can really kind of compound. And not that it's a bad trait, right, that doesn't make negative or low mood, a bad trait. But one specific challenge can be that moodiness mixing with that more serious or somber perspective. Sometimes people might say pessimistic when they're talking about low mood. And so that can really kind of create a little whirlwind of just difficult emotions for parents to help their teams manage. And so being prepared for that child that is a little more serious that you might need to help coach them through some of that.

Lori Korthals:

Absolutely. And their friends, too, right? Yes, absolutely. Or help them recognize that they have a friend that has a more negative mood. So yes, I think the takeaway from all of this, and even in the younger ages, but especially for the preteens, teens, adolescent at 12 to 17, right, is the idea that we can help them learn their temperament style. We can help them learn what their factory settings are. Because we help them learn, we can help them make a plan. And the super cool thing about it is we can have them actively participate. They can help make that plan. They can help create ideas on how to manage that factory setting, right? Oh, yeah, I love that.

Mackenzie Johnson:

They get to be involved in a different way because they're more developed. They're not all the way there. Right? Their brain is not fully developed but they've come really far since age four.

Lori Korthals:

Absolutely. And good point because guess what, they actually have about 10 to maybe even 12 more years of brain development. So even if they are persistent and really great at debating you, their brain still has growth to do. Yes. Which can be hard, right? Especially when they're slamming those doors.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, well, the thing I think about in the preteen and the teen years that I think is unique with temperament, is that future planning, right? They're thinking about picking college, or am I going to go into the military or what kind of job do I want to have after I graduate? And so there's all this future lingering over this whole period of development. And so one activity that we do, it's actually in a parenting program that's from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, called Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth 10 to 14. And one of the things we do is something called dream maps. But it's this idea that kids get to put down on paper what they want in the future, who do they want to be, what kinds of things would they like to achieve, what's important to them in the future, and then they get to share it with their parents. And so hopefully, we get the chance to do that through conversation with our teens and preteens. But it's this thing of like, you're going to be somebody and you have to start figuring out who that somebody is going to be and what job you want to have and all this stuff. And so I do, I think about how temperament plays into that. Absolutely, the insight we get on how they're going to move through the world and the communication skills that we can teach them and so that future orientation of the stage is just really fascinating to me, that temperament is gonna be a part of that, whether you have a kid that's going to jump in, or a kid like my husband, who knew he wanted to work in the field he's in when he was in like second grade. You know, that planner, that less adaptable. Versus I changed my major four times in college. And, you know, so I just think that's really fascinating to see, and help them learn those skills that are relevant to their temperament so they can make those big decisions that are going to come their way. Absolutely.

Lori Korthals:

I'm just sitting here giggling about my oldest because she has wanted to be a zookeeper since she was little. And that's what she is. And she actually is withdrawing, somewhat withdrawing, and somewhat not adaptable. It's like you put that together and I'm like, aha, I knew these things but I hadn't put that piece together. Thank you for that. She'll giggle when I tell her.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, with you talking about sensitivity. I don't remember which episode we were talking to, you said something about it and I was like, yeah, yeah. Things click as we talk about them, and I'm not kidding. The aha I've talked about with mood. I said a few episodes ago, I have a high mood and I worry that people take my silliness as not smart. Yes. Like, she's goofing around and okay, I'm goofing around and I know what I'm talking about. But the thing is that the more we dig into temperament, I feel like the wealth of wisdom just keeps going. Like we could talk about this forever and I'd still be having new aha moments.

Lori Korthals:

It does. It does. Can we have another a third season on temperament? Do you think Mackenzie and Barb will be like no more?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Well, apparently, it's like, every odd season, we think of something that we could loop into temperament.

Lori Korthals:

I don't know. Okay, so let's talk reality, right. Let's talk about how does this look in our homes, in our schools, in our life. And so one thing that we've been doing this season is we've kind of been taking liberty to say we think we know what you are surfing the internet for at 2am when it comes to the specific ages. So when it comes to teenagers, and you're up at 2am, anyway, right, because they've missed curfew. What is it that you're surfing the internet looking for answers on? And we thought that for teens and adolescence preteens, this whole idea of making decisions on their own without their parents, creating their own identity, might be that problem that you're searching online for answers for.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And the conflict it creates of you now have this dissonance of like, okay, for a long time, I felt like we were on the same page and now.

Lori Korthals:

Who are you? No longer on the same page. Yeah.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So what do we do when our kids make choices that do not align with our family values or family expectations? How do we handle when your child breaks a rule, which inevitably happens with teens? Because they are trying to find their own way? Yeah, even your quote unquote, well-behaved, there's going to be times they don't meet your expectations around chores, around getting home on time, around being honest about where they are. There's all these areas that as they look for more independence, you're going to run into some conflict.

Lori Korthals:

Absolutely. Absolutely. So okay. You talked a little bit about the program that Iowa State has, do you want to use that maybe for our reality? Okay, yeah.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So one of the things we talked about is from this, we call it SFP 10-14, for short. But yes, the Strengthening Families Program for parents and youth that have kids 10-14. So we talk about this idea of big problems have bigger solutions or bigger penalties. And small problems have smaller solutions or penalties, smaller consequences. Yes. So as we think about what do we do when our child breaks curfew, uses a substance that we are not okay with, when they make a choice that we think is too risky, when all of these things? What do we do about that? How do we handle it? And the fact that there's going to be different things, right? You might have that whole list of everything I said, you're like, yeah, how do I address each of them?

Lori Korthals:

Yes. Right now.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. And so we do, we talk about guidance and discipline, that it's about teaching our kids about appropriate behavior. We really want to teach them what we expect and what we want them to do, rather than just always punishing what we don't want them to do. So there's a couple different ways we can achieve this. But the big point of this is that it's on a scale, right? When it's a small issue, it's a small consequence. When it's a big issue, it's a big consequence. So the thing that comes to mind for me that you hear about was, well, we just took away their phone. And parents do this for a variety of reasons. But we can get to a point of having a default consequence, that no matter what happens, oh, we're gonna take away your phone. But we want our consequences to be logical and natural. So what makes sense for this specific behavior, this specific miscommunication or dishonesty or breaking this rule, right? The big for big, and the small for small.

Lori Korthals:

Yes. There's not just one consequence for everything. So there is not the consequence of we're taking your phone away for 30 days because you didn't unload the dishwasher. And we take your phone away for 30 days when you break curfew and refuse to tell us where you were while you were breaking curfew. Yes, two very different issues, right, two very different rules that have been broken. So having the default or the same consequence actually in the child's brain, because again remember, not fully developed, in the child's brain it's the same consequence. Well, I might as well just do this anyway, because this is going to happen. Where our adult brain is saying, okay, but don't you leverage the 30 days without your phone into the equation? No, actually they don't. And so looking at are there different things that we can have, let's say loss of privileges, perhaps. Yes, loss of privileges for those smaller misbehaviors, those smaller things that happen. And so as we look at this list of what are some privileges that they have. What are privileges? Privileges can be that they can stay out till 8pm without telling me where they're going, or they can stay at these seven friends' house without me checking in?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Or any of these places, that's okay.

Lori Korthals:

Yeah, a privilege might be that, you know, they get to have their phone past 9pm for the weekend, or whatever, whatever those privileges are. One thing that you can do with teens, is you can actually make a list of privileges to lose and consequences to be implemented, right? And I love what Barb Dunn Swanson told us, she said that when you have teens actually make those lists, they actually come up with some pretty harsh things.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah. So they'll be tougher on them than you would have.

Lori Korthals:

Exactly, exactly. And so coming up with that list ahead of the problem that happens is really important. And you can do that because your child in this stage is capable of it.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Oh, yeah. And so I think, you know, how do we follow this? When kids are little, I think it's almost easier to do this natural logical consequence of whether it's a small issue or a big issue, you know, the consequence. And so a couple examples of things that come to mind. You know, I think of okay, you didn't do the chore. I told you this needs to happen before Wednesday night. I need you to empty the dishwasher. I need you to take out the garbage, whatever that thing may be. I need you to do it before Wednesday night. And you tell them that on Sunday. When tonight comes, not done. Okay, I need you to do it now. Right? The loss of the privilege of you can do it whenever you get to it before this timeline. Okay, that didn't happen. Okay, next time I need you to do it right now. Or I need you to do it tonight. Because if I let you self-moderate, I don't know if you're going to do it. So at some point tonight, you have to do this. And that might mean, you have to do it before you go somewhere. Or you have to do it, yes, it's inconvenient for you. And then they can slowly maybe work back up to being in charge with more flexibility. So again, small issue, small consequences.

Lori Korthals:

And being able to earn it back. I love that you snuck that in there. Because let's say that you do have this long consequence, you know, two weeks, three weeks, 30 days, whatever. Boy, for a teen, a preteen, their brain actually to have a consequence for that long period of time, is really difficult on their development, especially because during that time, there's a lot of shame happening in their head. It is now two weeks after the offense, and I'm still shaming myself over it. It is now three weeks past the event and I am still shaming and so are you. I'm not saying long consequences are not acceptable. They absolutely are. But are their privileges they can begin to earn back during a long consequence? So if the consequence is a long 30 day period of something without their phone, let's say that right? Yeah. Is there a way to arn their phone back for an hour on Thursday afternoon? Is ther a way to earn their phone b ck for the weekend that they ar with you the whole time. A d so allowing those opportu ities to step back away from th t shame of the consequ nce, and begin to grow their s lf esteem as well as their d velopment and to show that, yo know, we can renegotiate in our family. We can hold firm to con equences, but we can also as a family, renegotiate. And we ll have imperfections but we an renegotiate around consequ nces.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. Well, and I think that also gives our teens and preteens an understanding that we value their opinion and their voice which teaches them that their voice has value in the world. Yeah, right. And so like, okay, yep, this is we said. Okay, I'm listening that you would like to have your phone this weekend. Okay, what do I do as your parent about the fact that I couldn't trust or you were dishonest, or whatever that thing was, and putting that back in their court. That creates that problem solving, helping them process risk taking and consequences. Those are all skills we can build as they earn it back. We show them we respect them, and we're going to hold our expectation that they need to be honest or on time. I often think of the issue around curfew as well. Yes, you know, that the flexibility of, okay, yep, you have to be home by this time. Right? And then maybe as our kids earn, right, they're consistently home. They're good communicators. They're honest. Maybe they earn more flexibility. I think of when I was growing up, one of my sisters got to set her own curfew based on what she was doing. So one night, it might be, I'll be home by 10. And one night, it might be, we were thinking about going to this late movie, could I be home by 12:30? But the expectation was that that came with a lot of communication. Absolutely. We're here. Now we're here, now we're here. And then when that's broken, it's like, nope, you've got to be home by 10 every night. So that flexibility is a big privilege and freedom. And there's ways to use that other than, well, you're grounded. And there's times when grounding is appropriate, right? I think of a situation where you were dishonest about this event, what it was going to be, who's gonna be there, all those things? I might not let you go to that if you were dishonest with me about it. Yeah. And so we're not saying there's only one way to discipline, we are talking about matching our consequences with the issue at hand when there was a breach of trust or expectations. So I feel like I'm belaboring it a little bit. There's a lot of questions about it. It's hard for parents to navigate this.

Lori Korthals:

And the bottom line is there should not just be one default.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah. Yes. The size, the bigness of it should affect the consequences and how we navigate it with our kids, for sure. Yeah, yeah. But we think there's one other issue in addition to this idea of conflict, and then finding themselves and their identity. We want to bring in one of our other team members to talk about this idea of communication around expectations and communication through conflict. So we want to bring in our teammate, Barb, and she's going to talk with us a little bit about another concept related to communication with our teens and preteens.

Barb Dunn Swanson:

What a great segue, because communication, really, you know, it's the heart of this whole moving through our journey into adulthood.

Mackenzie Johnson:

It sure is.

Barb Dunn Swanson:

Parents have such an enormous job launching their family members. And if they start with clear communication from the beginning, it really sets the tone for what that family expectations can look like, right? Yeah, we were talking in the season of resilience how important communication is. And then today, when we start thinking about the teen years, and all the unpredictability of hormones, emotions, the need to belong, is so strong when we're a teen. We want to find our place in the world. We want to know who our friends are going to be, will they like me? And now my body is changing in all of these ways. As parents, we need to communicate with our kids that you know what? We've got you and let's talk through all of these changes together.

Mackenzie Johnson:

You belong with us.

Lori Korthals:

I love that.

Barb Dunn Swanson:

Absolutely. And then you talked about the fact that consequences are necessary. Even as adults, there are consequences. If I speed in the car because I'm late for something, and then I get a ticket, that's a consequence, right? So consequences aren't just about kids. It's about what happens throughout life. And if we can communicate that to our kids, that you know what, consequences are about helping us stay safe, and about having a boundary and a limit so that I know where I am and where I can stay safe. Those are the things that we want to communicate to kids so that they know we're not trying to be harsh, right? We're not trying to be unreasonable. We're trying to keep everybody in the family safe and the communication is around our family values. We think about what those values look like, like we value honesty. And therefore, that's why we're asking you to not lie when I ask you where you were, you simply tell me where you were. And then let's talk about what the next steps are.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And I think you make a good point, Barb, that I was actually reading the textbook around parenting for a class that I'm taking. We talk about as kids get older, like in this preteen teen phase, the older they are, the more important the reasons. Yeah. The reasons that we have that expectation. The reason we value honesty, you know, and so those reasons become really important. And so there's this little formula in our Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth 10 to 14, where we talk about what language you can use to express those reasons, the consequences and the expectations, right.

Barb Dunn Swanson:

Yes. So that's a great strategy that a parent can use, and here's how it sounds. It sounds like this. I feel, and then you give a feeling word like maybe, grouchy, unhappy, frustrated. I feel disrespected. I feel, and then whatever that feeling is, because, and that because might be, because you spoke harshly to me, because you did not come home by curfew. Because you stayed up with your cell phone, when you knew that cell phones go off at 10pm. And you still had your cell phone at 11pm.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So I feel grouchy because I asked for this to be cleaned up and it's not.

Barb Dunn Swanson:

So then here's the second part, I want you to follow the rules. I want you or I need you to make sure that your cell phone is turned off at 10 o'clock. Now here's the piece that's missing for the kids. Kids need to know why. I mean, it doesn't seem like a big deal. My friends were still texting me. But here's the why. Because I know your mood. We're going back to temperament. We're connecting. We're connecting it right back to temperament. I know your adaptability and in the morning when you're still sleepy, you're less adaptable. And I know that'll frustrate you getting ready for school in the morning. So believe me, it's not because I don't want you to have good communication with your friends and be texting. But it's because I love you and you need your sleep. Sounds awesome. Communicating the why. Letting the kids know that it's because I want you safe, and I know what your temperament is and I want you to be healthy and this is one of the ways you're going to feel good about yourself.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, yes. Well, I think that idea of, I feel when or I feel because. Like, I feel grouchy because this is not picked up and I asked for it to be. I want you to pick it up now. Right? Because, and I'll be honest, I feel overwhelmed when it's messy like this, because it's hard for me to communicate effectively with you when you don't do what I asked. Because whatever the reason might be, we're giving that emotion word or the impact of your child's behavior, what you want them to do, or what specific behavior. We talked about "stop it" syndrome. Knock it off it or I told you, and being specific about what behavior rather than you knew, you knew. But yeah, I love that little formula is like a cheat sheet of I feel when, I want you to because. I want you to put that phone away because you need nine hours of sleep. It's a bummer that your friends don't. You do. Yes. Oh, yes. Well, thanks, Barb. It's good to just kind of chat through these challenges that our kids go through and that we go through so thanks for hopping in here with us today to talk about that.

Barb Dunn Swanson:

You are welcome.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I'm sure we'll get to see Barb another day.

Lori Korthals:

I think we will.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So we've covered a lot. I love this lens of looking at temperament at the age because we know those things push together of what our kids are working on in terms of getting more independent. That our teens and preteens are having this puberty experience. Their temperament plays into that, the social friendships, all of the stuff that's happening around them, temperament is a part of it, and it gives us that insight to kind of anticipate and to help teach the skills that they're going to need moving into adulthood. So yeah, I love it.

Lori Korthals:

I do, too. And the whole concept of we can teach them because of their age right now, what their factory setting is. So sharing with them what that factory setting is and how it's impacting their relationships with their friends. So thanks for joining us today on The Science of Parenting. We are grateful for all of you that already to subscribe to our podcast. And for those of you that haven't had a chance to subscribe yet, make sure that you subscribe and then you can join us each week on The Science of Parenting.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, please do come along with us as we tackle the ups and downs, the ins and outs, and the research and reality all around The Science of Parenting.

Anthony Santiago:

The Science of Parenting is hosted by Lori Korthals and Mackenzie Johnson, produced by Mackenzie DeJong, with research and writing by Barbara Dunn Swanson. Send in questions and comments to parenting@iastate.edu and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries go to www.extension.iastate.edu/diversity/ext.