Children, particularly teens, believe that they are entitled to the things they want and need, and they feel that you should provide it for them on demand. They rarely recognize that their entitled attitude and insistence that they get what they want impacts others.
1.The goal for parents is to immediately respond to demands with (a) choices, (b) consequences, and (c) consistent follow-through in order to avoid power struggles and tantrums. Yes, even as teenagers they will have teenage tantrums. f this is a new approach for you, your teen will probably still have tantrums in response to this new approach. In fact, his reactions may seem to be more extreme before it improves, because he is testing new limits. He wants to see if you will react differently if embarrassed , if he destroys things, if he loses control, etc.
2. Ask, “How would this make you feel.” Leave the statement there. (For a child you would ask him how he would feel if he was interrupted? If the was woken up? If you talked to him that way? Help them understand how their demanding actions make others feel.)
3. Be patient with your teen, but stand your ground. Do not make the mistake of giving up too soon because you do not see the results you want immediately. It is unrealistic to expect your teen’s behavior to change overnight.
4. Do not allow yourself to get drawn into arguments. A teen will resist your efforts to redirect his behavior if “being demanding” has gotten him his way in the past. Do not engage in power struggles with him. Remind him of your expectations and the consequences for his behavior, and then let him decide if he is going to obey you.
5. Establish appropriate consequences. He needs to know there are consequences attached to his behaviour. Communicate precisely what will happen when he behaves in a way that is unacceptable. Consequences have to be consistent in order to be effective.
6. Give positive reinforcement. The most effective way to reduce demanding behavior in kids is to strengthen desirable behavior through positive reinforcement. Be aware of when your teen makes an effort to improve his behavior and give sincere compliments when he succeeds.
7. Avoid vague reprimands such as “act your age” or “behave yourself.” Instead, give him a clear picture of his unacceptable behavior by using descriptive language (e.g., “You are shouting at me because I won’t let you go to the mall. This is not appropriate.”).
8. If mums and dads allow the natural consequences of a situation to occur, the parent is not the one exerting the control – nature is. The parent can now face the situation calmly and from a detached position of presenting the child with his choices and then letting him experience the consequences of his choice.
9. Is your teen demanding because that is how you talk to them? Evaluate the way you talk to your kids. We might find that we are relentless and demanding in our communication, and our children are just copying us.
10. Is your teen demanding because he doesn’t feel he is getting enough attention? Take time to listen to him without multitasking. Sit down, look him in the eyes and just listen. Laugh together, watch his eyes, and observe his story-telling actions. Forget about the laundry.
11. Make it really clear that a demanding, whinny, relentless voice will not be tolerated. If they have a request, it has to be made in a “nice voice.” And, saying things once will suffice. Don’t acknowledge demanding relentless requests.
12. Mums and dads are doing a disservice to themselves and to their teen by giving in to demands to avoid a scene. Even if unintentional, this teaches the child that if his behaviour gets severe enough, he will get what he wants.
13. Don’t let your teen intimidate you. Demanding children feel like life revolves around them. You have to change that. The only way is by saying ‘no’ to some of their requests. This means we have to stay strong and not give in. Stick to your guns. When we give in to the demands, we have just taught our kids that when they are demanding and relentless, they get what they want. The exact opposite of what we are trying to teach.
14. When kids are young, it’s hard for them to understand the difference between needs and wants. Getting to baseball practice on time is “necessary.” Buying the latest cd is “not necessary.”
15. The middle of a angry outburst is not the time to reflect feelings or try to talk a teen out of being angry.
16. There are times when it is best to walk away from the situation and refuse to interact until their behaviour improves. A power struggle cannot occur with one person. Walking away is not giving in. Usually the child wants something from the parent, either some service or attention. Walking away will give them nothing and will give him a chance to calm down and rethink his choice in the matter.
17. When your child does say something in a demanding tone of voice, reflect his/her feelings (“I understand you feel…”) before stating your expectation about how it should be said (“…but I expect you to tell me in a calm, polite way.”).
18. Be patient with your teen as you implement your new parenting strategies. We must implement change gradually because change is tough. People don’t like change, and kids will totally reject parenting changes if they occur too fast.