Reading, 8

angry.jpgYou are going to read an article in which various parents talk about punishment for teenagers. For questions 22–35 choose from the parents (A–F). The parents may be chosen more than once. When more than oneanswer is required, these may be given in any order. There is an example at the beginning (0).

A Madeline Portwood, educational psychologist and mother

B Theresa Gill, mother and nursery nurse

C Grant McNally, social worker and father

D David Spellman, father and psychologist working with disturbed teenagers

E John Peel, father and radio presenter

F Tim Burke, spokesman for the National Youth Agency

Which of the parents:

believes that parents must carry out threats?  0 __A___

get annoyed with teenage laziness?      22 _____      23 ____

does not deal with youngsters professionally?      24 _____

believes we must remember that all teenagers are individuals?    25 _____

is happy with the way his/her children have turned out?   26 _____

believes we should expect arguments between teenagers and parents? 27 _____

is happy with the upbringing that he/she had?  28 _____

has a son who can be very naughty?  29 _____

has a written agreement with his/her children?    30 _____

thinks we should focus on the good things about our children?   31 _____

believes that punishment only works with younger children?   32 _____

have teenage sons?    33 _____         34 _____

believes it is important for teenagers to set their own limits?  35 _____

A.-Madeline Portwood

Educational psychologist and mother

The first thing a parent has to decide is what’s going to be meaningful to a teenager. If you ground them but they can stay in and play computer games, it won’t necessarily be that meaningful to them. Parents make endless threats, but they must carry them out and they must be realistic. It’s also important for teenagers to see sanctions as just. If the teacher behaves the same way to all pupils, they accept it. If there is more than one child in the family, parents have to apply sanctions equally. As children get older, sanctions often become meaningless to them.

B.-Theresa Gill

Mother and nursery nurse

My oldest son is just thirteen and he has not really stepped out of line so far, but if he did get to that lazy and argumentative stage, I would withdraw luxuries such as his mobile phone, computer and football training. While he lives in my house he has to obey the rules. Once he’s 18 and out of the house, he can do as he pleases. My siblings and I were given quite a lot of freedom by our parents and their reasoning was that if we were going to do something anyway, they would rather we did it at home – and we’ve all turned out to be quite well-balanced.

C.- Grant McNally

Social worker and father

I operate a contract system with my two boys: one is eleven and the other two years older. We have all signed it and breaches of behaviour result in loss of privileges such as stopping of pocket money or grounding. Some flexibility is important, but if the contract is altered too much, the boundaries start collapsing. My older son works well with it, but my younger son has behavioural problems and that makes things harder to manage. It is difficult when you try to be a non-authoritarian and inclusive parent and recognize children’s rights. But parents have rights too – like the right to a stress-free life.

D.-David Spellman

Father and psychologist working with disturbed teenagers

I think you can turn sanctions round and offer rewards instead, which can motivate teenagers. Parents should reward the behaviour they want to see. There does seem to be a great preoccupation with punishment. It’s quite clear to me that parents’ relationships with teenagers are much better if they focus on the positive and acknowledge and appreciate their children. It is quite easy to get into a negative, punitive position as a parent, which is often selfdefeating. Every teenager is different and they can’t just be lumped together into one group and all treated the same.

E.-John Peel

Father and radio presenter

I don’t think we really employed sanctions with our children because I just don’t think they work. They are sullen, unhelpful and resentful if you do that. I think that, actually, their reluctance to help out with things caused us more anxiety than things they did that we wish they hadn’t. It was more about motivating them into some sort of action. One of the things I always tried to avoid was drawing a line in the sand. If a child has any sort of character, he or she will want to step over it. They are all nice people and we like being with them – you can’t ask for more than that.

F.-Tim Burke

Spokesman for the National Youth Agency

Applying sanctions to a young person can be a bit like prison: it may work for some people on some occasions, but for may others it is counter-productive, especially when used inappropriately. Some degree of conflict between parents and teenagers is inevitable; young people need to push the boundaries – it’s part of growing up and finding out who they are. Self-imposed boundaries that they have arrived at through their own experience and reflection are more effective. Our organization supports youth workers who help young people learn about themselves and about how to be members of their communities.

Check your answers here


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