Stories about: parenting advice

Teens and discipline: Too old for time-out

Mother disciplines teen boy on couch

When we think of discipline, we tend to think of young children. We tend to think about tantrums, about teaching them to be polite and tell the truth and not fight with their siblings and other children. We don’t think as much about teens.

But teens need discipline too, just as much. In some ways, they need it more: not only do they need to learn how to behave responsibly as adults, but the stakes are higher. It’s one thing when you fall off a jungle gym, and quite another when you drink and drive.

The kind of discipline teens need is similar to the discipline you’ve (hopefully) used since they were small, but needs to take into account that they are on the cusp of independence. Here are four tips for disciplining teens:

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Helping your child through a transition

Meaghan O’Keeffe, RN, BSN, is a mother, writer and nurse. She worked at Boston Children’s Hospital for nearly a decade, in both the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and the Pre-op Clinic.  She is a regular contributor to Thriving.

Meaghan_OKeeffe_1A few months ago I hit a parenting rut. It was the end of February. Between the holidays, the snow days, and some sick days, we hadn’t had a solid three-day week of pre-school in almost two months. My four-year-old son, Tommy, began to have extreme meltdowns several times a day. Because it was time to leave the house. Or it was time to put a toy down. Or it was time for bed. (Or, as it seemed to me, just because.) Each moment was an intense battle and no matter what I tried, I couldn’t navigate around the rough waters. I kept hitting the rapids. I was at my wit’s end. Enough that I pulled his pre-school teacher aside one morning, and whispered, near tears, “I don’t know what to do with him.” She reassured me this was normal and gave me some tips. I made a few changes, and within a couple of weeks, it appeared we had emerged from the whirlpool.

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Limiting TV: Good for your child, GREAT for you

Meaghan O’Keeffe, RN, BSN, is a mother, writer and nurse. She worked at Boston Children’s Hospital for nearly a decade, in both the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and the Pre-op Clinic.  She is a regular contributor to Thriving.

Meaghan_OKeeffe_1Misery loves company, as the saying goes. Swap out “misery” for “happiness” and you’ve got a much better outcome. Happier kids create happier parents.

So, what if I told you that by making just one small change, you could have a child who is happier, healthier, more relaxed and more connected with those around them?

“What is it?” you ask, on the edge of your seat. “What’s the secret?”

“All you need to do…”

“Yes?” you say, your eyes bright and encouraging.

“…is limit television and screen time.”

Did I already lose you?

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6 ways to help your kids deal with anger

Meaghan O’Keeffe, RN, BSN, is a mother, writer and nurse. She worked at Boston Children’s Hospital for nearly a decade, in both the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and the Pre-op Clinic.  She is a regular contributor to Thriving.

Meaghan_OKeeffe_1Anger is a natural emotion. It can help us defend ourselves when we feel threatened, and in the right circumstances, it can be the needed spark that spurns someone into action.

The problem is, many of us don’t know how to deal with anger. Some of us avoid it, some of us suppress it and some of us explode with it. And, whether or not we know it, we may be teaching these anger management techniques to our kids—both good and bad. For instance, when it comes to processing my own anger, I’m an avoider/suppressor. In fact, it wasn’t until I was well into adulthood that I even recognized when I felt angry. Anger generally makes me feel uneasy. So when my kids express it, my knee-jerk reaction is to talk them out of it, to get them to see the positive side of a situation. In some ways, this is a good skill to learn.

But am I just teaching them that anger isn’t okay?

How can we approach anger from a different perspective? How can we help our children express themselves in a healthy way? By thinking about constructive ways to work through those feelings—before they’ve hit.

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