Amy Brinn, LICSW
Parenting Coach

Parenting Tips

Tips on Child Discipline

  • From infancy, clearly state the rules of appropriate and safe behavior. Children feel more secure when they know that there are rules to keep themselves and others safe.
  • Be consistent about enforcing the rules, and about what the consequences are if the child doesn’t follow them. The consequences should never include hitting a child. 
  • It is vital that if two parents are involved, that they present a united front around rules and consequences of breaking them.
  • Discipline means teaching, not punishing. There have to be consequences for breaking rules. You can use these times as teaching moments about values and how people should treat themselves and others.
  • Choose your power struggles. Identify the rules and limits most important to you and let some of the small things go.

Tips for Dealing with Teenagers

  •  Understand that the “developmental task” of teens is separation from their parents. This can be an underlying factor in power struggles. Teens often feel conflicted: they want to be independent, but still want to be cared for.
  • Ongoing communication is essential. Try to get teens to talk, to stay in touch with you. But communication is a two-way street. It is also important for you to share appropriate aspects of your life with them.
  • Acknowledge their growing maturity: talk to them as you would a colleague or a friend. Model respect for them and you’ll get it back from them.
  • Teenagers like to feel “heard”. Try listening without immediately responding. When you respond, try identifying and empathizing with the feeling expressed before moving on to action steps.
  • Find out what your teen’s interests are and engage them in teaching you about them, for example, music, movies, sports.
  • When things get heated, take a “time out” both for yourself and the teen. Schedule a time to get back together and talk later.

"My coaching sessions with Amy were my lifeline to feeling sane. Having already raised two children, I thought my third (ten years younger) would be easier. What a surprise! I sat down with Amy when I was at wit's end - thinking I had tried EVERYTHING and not clear where to go. All my self-doubts popped to the forefront. 
Sitting down and talking things through with Amy helped me realize: (1) there were more options - she opened my eyes to new ideas; (2) I could switch gears without being inconsistent - the values hadn't changed and that's what was key; and (3) strategies needed to be flexible with a sense in advance how I could adjust. 
All of my challenges haven't disappeared, but I feel on such firmer footing. Since I started with Amy, my interactions with my son have improved vastly, and I think there's much greater clarity in my head. The confidence that I gained is a foundation piece." - Mother, Brookline, MA

"Parents need to listen to their kids  as much as their kids need to listen to them: the first duty of love is to listen" - Paul Tillich
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