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Tame a Troublesome Teen with These Three Steps

June 30, 2020

When your teen’s behavior is so out of line and everything is a fight, you cannot manage behavior until you have some semblance of a relationship.

For that, Guerrilla Love.

In guerrilla warfare, we sneak up on our enemy combatant and kill them to quickly sneak away.

In Guerrilla Love, we sneak up on our teen to give an act of affection to quickly leave. No lingering.

For instance, you enter their room, quickly walk to your teen, give a kiss on the top of their head and leave as quickly as you entered. No discussion.

Your teen will be struck and confused.

They are used to your appearance to nag, complain, cajole or admonish, yet this was an act of love and affection.

It will create a cognitive dissonance. A conflict between their thinking you hate them yet showed you care.

They can resolve that dissonance one of two ways. They think you are either crazy, or that you do still love them.

Fortunately, all kids want to be loved.

However this will not be trusted.

The teen will have to experience your no longer nagging, cajoling, admonishing while continuing to experience other acts of Guerrilla Love.

Many parents find that within a week or two of this well executed tactic, their teen eventually pops out from their room, comes to dinner, engages in conversation.

It is then that a fragile relationship starts to be restored.

Here the parent must appreciate they cannot go back to trying to control their teen.

The new strategy is to hope to influence. Control will not work.

To enable any degree of influence though, there must be a relationship first. No relationship, no influence.

Influence itself is developed by the parent expressing curiosity, not judgement, towards the behavior of the teen.

How do you see that working?

Do you see any possible negative outcomes?

How would you plan for that?

What impact do you a anticipate that will have on others?

The idea is to facilitate the critical thinking of the teen without any imposition.

If you think you can go to influence without first reestablishing a relationship, think again. It will only backfire.

1) Guerrilla Love.

2) Reestablish a relationship.

3) Develop influence by facilitating critical thinking.

That’s the order.


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I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

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