Some sample tips from "It Works for Us II: The Teen Years":
- Pluck-a-buck. I used to spend a great deal of time nagging my kids to do their household chores, but that has changed since I started plucking money from their allowance for neglecting their work. Now, every Monday morning I place my children's weekly allowance, all in single one-dollar bills, in envelopes with their names on them. The envelopes are taped on the refrigerator. They can't take the money until the following Sunday evening. In the meantime, if they forget or refuse to do one of their scheduled chores, I pluck a buck from their envelopes. I don't nag anymore. On Sunday, they can keep what's left. After the first two weeks of watching their allowance dwindle away, they started being much more diligent about their responsibilities. - Shelly McKinzie, Fremont, Calif.- Monthly clothing allowance. When our daughter entered adolescence it seemed as if her wardrobe was never large enough or fashionable enough to please her. We decided to establish a monthly clothing allowance so that she could have some control over the situation. At the beginning we sat down together to determine the amount we could afford each month, and exactly what items were to be purchased from the allotment. She became a careful shopper (always aware of sales), and sometimes even decided to forgo expensive designer labels in favor of greater quantity. - Vanetta Hayhurst, Farmington, Conn.
- The alarm enforces curfew. Before our two teens went out with friends for the evening or on a date, my husband and I would negotiate a reasonable curfew for them to return by. Instead of waiting up for them past our own bedtime, my husband and I would set our alarm to ring at curfew time. If our children came home before their curfew, they would tiptoe into our bedroom and shut off the alarm before it went off. If, however, they were late and the alarm woke us up, we would know that they missed their curfew. We always encouraged them to call us if they were going to be late. We preferred waking up to their voice on the phone rather than be startled by the alarm going off and not knowing where they were. - Patty McMillan, Long Beach, Calif.
- No more homework cop. My husband and I used to quiz our daughter nightly regarding the completion of her homework. It was like playing cops and robbers each night. So now, instead of hounding her about her homework each evening, we review a semiweekly progress report from each of her teachers. Since her privileges depend on a good progress report, she is now motivated to complete her homework and get good grades - without our pestering. - Terry Dulberg, Hayward, Calif.
- "I need to think about that." Occasionally, when my daughters would ask me for permission to do something I wasn't sure about, I would respond, "I need to think about it," or "I need more information to make my decision." Frequently, during the few days I asked to ponder the idea or gather more information, my daughters lost interest in that activity or the plans fell through. So by asking for more time to consider the request, I found myself saying no much less than I did in the past. When I did say no, my daughters knew that my decision was final. - Holly Frei, Fremont, Calif.
- The true meaning of popular. My son complained that he was not part of the group of kids in his high school who were "popular." In questioning him about these classmates, I asked him if they were truly "popular" or if they just had a certain image. After some thought to this question, my son replied that they were not in fact well-liked. Recognizing the difference between being "popular" in the true sense of the word and simply projecting a rather unfriendly image and attitude has helped my son with his self esteem. - K.H., Sonora, Calif.
- Television cop. I recently decided to embrace technology to help me cure my son of his TV habit: I purchased a TV allowance box. It lets me decide how much time to allow my son to watch television and to play video games. I simply code the time in. When the chosen amount of time is up, the machine shuts down the screen. I told my son I would buy back any unused hours at the end of the week for $1 per hour. This has been so successful with my capitalist son that in three months since we started, he has watched exactly one hour of television. Many of his old but forgotten activities now fill in the hours. In an interesting twist, my son suggested we start a new family "game." Each week I select an extra chore for him to do. If he does that chore without complaining, he gets to watch without TV allowance cost, one show of his own choosing. - J.S., Cupertino, Calif.
If you have a tip that has worked for you and your teens, Tom McMahon would like to hear from you. Send it to Parenting Tips, 40087 Mission Blvd. Box 300, Fremont, CA 94539. Or call 1-800-678 TIPS. If your tip is selected for publication, you name or initials, city and state will be listed with your tip unless you request otherwise.