Parenting adolescent boys is challenging. My guess is you have at some point said this “my son is drawn to trouble like a magnet!” Am I right? Here’s an exercise you may find helpful.
I like to call this one “trouble meter.” Males, especially adolescent males, are visual so when I’m working with a young man that is drawn to trouble, I give this visual example of what they can do to identify trouble and prevent that spontaneous and curious reaction to “walk right into it.”
Every adolescent male needs a “trouble meter” in his toolbox!
Here’s How it Works!
First draw a big round meter/circle, I do it on a white board. You can use a piece of paper (remember, he’s visual!).
Half the trouble meter is black, and the other half is white. The black zone indicates wrong and the place where bad things happen. The white zone indicates it’s safe and okay. Next you need a street that leads to a “fork in the road.” Talk him through the situation like this:
Imagine you’re walking home from school and up ahead of you, 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 can see clearly, it’s black…on the “trouble meter” that means 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 right and okay. 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 and it’s best to be on the other side of the street, in the white zone!”
A New Tool
Be ready 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 the right choice. 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!
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