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          Parents: Breaking Teens’ Bad Habits

          July 13, 2005

          Parents play a major role in their teens’ behavior and have the ability to be both loving and firm as they establish guidelines for safe and respectful living. Dr. Phil and Jay offer suggestions for what parents can do to help their teens break their bad habits.

          1. Set clear boundaries.
          Establish clear boundaries that cannot be crossed and then stick to them. If you tell your teen that she will be punished if she breaks her curfew, be sure to live up to it.

          2. Plug into your teen’s life.
          Be aware of who your teenager is hanging out with, monitor her progress in school, and notice any changes in her behavior that could be related to drug or alcohol use.

          3. Negotiate.
          Sit down with your teen and negotiate a set of rules and regulations that are realistic and that you can both live up to. Enlist the help of a third party if necessary.

          4. Discuss, don't scream.
          Aggressive behavior is easy to tune out. Speak to your teen like he's an adult and he may act like one.

          5. Forget "cool."
          Your job as a parent is not to be a cool friend, but to set up boundaries in which your teen can comfortably grow.

          6. Reward your teen for positive behavior.
          Being a troubled teen is not a lifetime sentence. When your teen makes the effort to break a negative pattern of behavior, be sure to acknowledge the change by giving him more freedom and showing him that it is possible to rebuild trust. This positive reinforcement will encourage him to keep up the good work.

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