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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Teens and Drinking

The Herald recently had an article written by Karen Bair and Jessica
Schonber on teen drinking
( A main point from the
student survey was the impact parents have on preventing teen drinking. How
can parents do this? An excerpt from the management book, Everyone's A
Coach, by Don Shula and Ken Blanchard may give you some insight:

"In the typical organization, the most frequent response people get to their
performance is no response. We have a name for the kind of manager who only
notices employees when they make a mistake. We call this a
"leave-alone-zap! Manager." You leave the person alone long enough for them
to fail, and then you move in and zap them. The leave-alone-zap! is the
main strategy in what I refer to as "seagull management." Seagull managers
fly in, make a lot of noise, dump on everyone, and then fly off somewhere.
Let me give an example of why this approach is inappropriate and
self-defeating for a coach.

Studies show that among teen-agers, there are significantly less incidents
of drinking, drug use, indiscriminate sex, and fatal traffic accidents
occurring before 12:00 midnight than after that hour. Suppose that the
parents of a sixteen-year-old learn about this and say, "We'd better get our
son home earlier." They announce to him, in no uncertain terms, that they
want him home by 12:00 midnight. The next time he's out with his friends
and sees it is 11:30 p.m., he says, "My parents want me in by twelve. I've
got to leave." His peers start shaming him: "What are you, man, a momma's
boy? Are they going to tuck you in?" He's getting a negative response from
his all-important peer group. He's a good kid, though, so he bears the
negative response and says, "No, I've gotta go." But when he walks in the
door on time at home, where are his parents? They're either gone or asleep.
He's lucky if he gets a lick from the dog. This is a typical no-response.

Now let's see how the "leave-alone" results in a "zap!" First, let's look
at the score in terms of who has noticed what: so far, the teenager has one
negative response (from his peers) and one no-response (from his parents).
Which will have the greater effect? Negative noticing will win, going away.
It's no contest. Most people will be impacted more by a negative response
than by a no-response. This is why it's so important to be there to praise
good behavior. In some companies we give managers a set of buttons that
read, "I was caught doing something right" and tell them to give a button
to an employee when they notice good performance. The recipients appreciate

If this is a typical no-response case, what happens when the boy goes out
the next night? At 11:30 when he makes his announcement that he needs to be
home by midnight, his friends start in on him again. This time he thinks to
himself, "Am I crazy? I got home last night on time and nobody noticed.
Why should I take this grief from my buddies?" Tonight he arrives home at
1:00 a.m. where are his parents this time? They're at the door yelling at
him, "We told you to be home by twelve! We're sick and tired of your lousy
attitude." Seagull management in action. This puts the kid in a lose-lose
situation: if he does what his parents want, he gets beat up by his
friends; if he does what his friends want, he gets grief from his folks.

It's important to be there to praise the good behavior so that you send some
points up against the negative ones that the peers are bestowing. And if
you want your children to be home by a certain hour, do whatever it takes to
be there to reward their good behavior. If you're asleep, set an alarm. If
you're out with friends, announce to them by 11:30, "We told our son to be
home by midnight, and we want to be there when he comes home." When the kid
walks in, make a big fuss over him, hugging and kissing him and making a big
show of celebration. Sound corny? Guess what-it works. My sister and I
never stayed out late because the moment we left the house my mother would
start baking things for our return. We came home early because it was a
good deal! There were all kinds of goodies waiting for us. Old-fashioned?
Sure, but our friends loved to come to our house, not only because the food
was great but because my mother would play the piano and everyone would sing
and dance.

Positive consequences encourage people to repeat good behavior. And if
you're not involved with your people, you won't notice their good work."

No one said being a parent was easy.

1 comment:

Roslilmom said...

As a teacher in our district, I want to commend you on this article. What I notice almost daily as I talk with students about their home life is that many of them have no one at home who praises them. There are many reasons for this. Some are economic. Some are just simple indifference. But wouldn't it be wonderful if all parents could discover that the job of parenting is the toughest, yet grandest, job one could ever wish to have?
Thanks again for saying what so many need to hear and understand!

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