Parenting Practice to Reconsider: The ‘Get it Out of Their System’ Approach

Some parents have chosen to follow a “get it out of their system” approach to handling their teens’ misbehavior.

Allowing your teenager to feel independent is a great way to help foster both their growth and their sense of responsibility over their life. But there is a limit to how far this should go and a clear line that, once crossed, can be detrimental to their development.

Some parents have chosen to follow a “get it out of their system” approach to handling their teens’ misbehavior. These teenagers are allowed to run wild with the caveat that eventually they will grow up and start flying straight. Unfortunately, this doesn’t tend to work out how many parents hope.

The Teenager’s Ability to Make Decisions

Think your teen is set to make good decisions? You may want to think again. Their brains are literally wired differently than an adult. The part of the brain that is used to make positive choices is underdeveloped, while the area where recklessness is dictated is overactive. Not an ideal mix when it comes to making good decisions. So, not only do they have trouble rationalizing the best course of action, but under-regulated emotions and a lack of impulse control means they will almost always act in a less than responsible manner.

If you let them “get it out of their system”, you can be assured that they will make a lot of bad choices. In fact, even without that ideology, they are prone to rebel. This should be an expected consequence, as it is a natural part of adolescence and their way of breaking from the parental mold and establishing themselves as individuals.

Parental Intervention: The Best Gift You Can Give

The need for consequences is clear when you look at the impact on teens who have none. That doesn’t mean you should punish them constantly or unfairly. You just need to show them that they are responsible for their actions and guide them in making the choices they are not currently equipped to make on their own at the present stage of development they are in.

Communicating with them about the behavioral issues they are displaying is important. Sometimes all they need is to let loose about what is happening in their lives, without fear of judgment.

When you do punish them, try to do it mindfully and with them fully understanding what they did wrong, how you feel about it, the impact it could have on them and what the punishment is. Be consistent, the consequences should always fit the “crime”.

Sometimes it is alright to give your teen a break, even if they have messed up. If you can see they are truly remorseful or if they seem to have tried but fallen short, a punishment may not be appropriate. A lesson can be far more powerful and beneficial than a recrimination.


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