New Books Offer an Answer to Discipline Problems
Walnut Creek psychologist Ann Schiebert has seen a persistent problem in her 15-year practice: teens who feel they’ve been unjustly punished by their parents for doing something they didn’t know would bring consequences.
So in the past year, Schiebert has written two books to address the issue – Let’s Make a Contract: Getting Your Teen Through High School and Beyond and Let’s Make a Contract: Getting Your Teen Through Substance Abuse.
Schiebert says the scene in her office often goes like this: "The teens claim they didn’t know they weren’t supposed to do something, and the parents claim their kids ‘should have known,’" she says. "This parent-child argumentative and never-ending dynamic seemed to be an issue for most of my patients."
Often, the teen made bad decisions on the spur of the moment based on what their friends were doing. Even so, Schiebert began to see the teenagers’ point when they responded to their punishment with cries of "unfair!"
The teens clearly lacked first-hand experience to make good choices, she says, plus their incomplete brain development, as shown by research, left them unable to fully anticipate consequences.
After considerable research, she devised a solution: Preemptive Parenting with Contracts.
In her new books, she explains preemptive parenting, where parents create guidelines for specific situations before they are needed. The parents discuss the guidelines with their kids, advise of specific expectations and responsibilities and decide on consequences for not following through.
Finally, they put the guidelines and consequences into a contract and place it where everyone can regularly refer to it.
It’s a simple, argument-free process, but not always easy, Schiebert says, because parents need to take on responsibility for preempting possible behaviors and following through with consequences.
Published by Andrew Benzie Books, Schiebert’s Let’s Make a Contract books are available on amazon or her website at www.drannschiebert.com.