Does Your Son Have a “Trouble Meter?”

Are you raising an adolescent boy? My guess is at some point you have said this “my son is drawn to trouble like a magnet!”  Am I right? This exercise may help; it’s called the trouble meter.

Trouble Meter

Males, especially adolescent males, are visual; they like adventure and action. They can easily be drawn to trouble, many times purely out of curiosity. Here’s an example of what they can do to identify trouble and prevent that spontaneous and curious reaction so that they don’t “walk right into it.”

Equip him with a “trouble meter” and have him add it to his toolbox (metaphorically speaking)!

How it Works

First draw a big round meter/circle, using a white board if you have one or a big piece of paper (remember, he’s visual!).

Half the trouble meter is black, and the other half is white. The black zone indicates wrong choices and a place where bad things happen.  The white zone indicates good choices and safety. Next draw a street that leads to a “fork in the road.”  Now here’s the teachable moment; talk him through the situation like this:

Imagine you’re walking home from school and up ahead of you in the distance on the same side of the street, you see something interesting; you’re drawn to it.  It’s very dark and the closer you get you see clearly, it’s black and on the “trouble meter” that registers wrong and bad! Remind him, he can see trouble; it doesn’t see him!

Now on the opposite side, at the fork in the road, is the white zone where things are good and safe. In that moment, that split second stop and have him say to himself “if I keep walking straight, I’m going to walk right into trouble, and I can get hurt; but if I CROSS THE STREET NOW, I can avoid the trouble and avoid getting hurt.  It’s not worth a closer look, it’s best to go around it and it’s best to be on the other side of the street, in the white zone!

This New Tool

Be prepared because he’ll have questions like, “what if I’m not sure if it’s black or white (it’s a gray area)?” Respond that you have confidence in him, and now that he understands the “trouble meter” you know he understands how to make good choices. Reinforce how proud of him you’ll be for making the right decision.

Remember to check in with your son daily for 3 weeks (this establishes a habit) and ask if he’s using the “trouble meter,” then periodically after that.

Don’t forget to reward him for good behavior and good choices!

This is a simple, yet impactful exercise to do with your son.  I demonstrate this in my office regularly with great success! 

If you’d like more tips, you can pick up my books HERE.


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