Stay in the Front Row of Your Teen’s Life: A Beginner’s Guide to Positive Discipline

Casey O'Roarty
6 min readMar 6, 2021

“Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order for kids to do better, first we need to make them feel worse. Kids do better when they feel better.”
- Dr. Jane Nelsen, author of Positive Discipline

I have been practicing Positive Discipline with my own kids and facilitating it with others for the past 14 years. When my kids were young, it felt easy to implement, once we hit the teens years and things got messy, I felt total overwhelm and confusion.

And I know I am not alone.

The teen years are TOUGH. And, if you are like I was, you may be a parent of a school-aged child thinking — “you know, I just don’t see the teen years as being a problem for me.”

Good luck with that, my friend..

The teen years are always unexpected. No matter what’s happening coming into them, you will be taken by surprise, over and over again — not because teens are rotten humans and have character flaws, but because the terrain of the teen years is rugged.

Those of us committed to parenting the Positive Discipline way know that the desire for belonging and significance is at the root of all behavior . This quote by Jane Nelsen, author of Positive Discipline, captures that sentiment. Our kids, our teens, want to feel a sense of connection and they want to know that they matter.

Now, what makes this difficult during the teen years is that our kids struggle with their perception of connection and mattering. They go through a developmentally-appropriate stage of pulling away, trying on identities, and exploring the world outside of the family system. They can become more self-conscious, and shift from wanting approval from their family (although that desire remains) to wanting the approval of their peers.

As hard as it can be for our teens, it is equally if not harder for parents — especially parents who are looking to parent their teens differently than they may have been parented.

I love this quote shared on Raising Teens Today on IG:

Raising a teenager is hard… But, being a teenager is hard, too, which is why our kids need someone they trust to lean on, to come to for advice, and to share their lives — the good, the bad and the ugly. Having a front row seat in our kids’ lives is a far better place to be than sitting on…

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Casey O'Roarty

Casey O’Roarty is a Parent Coach and Positive Discipline Trainer supporting parents in navigating the wild terrain of the teen years.