Counseling Services For Families
Counseling Services for Families

Parenting Teens

5 Steps – How To Set Behavioral Modification Goals For Your Teen

I have the great pleasure of working with a wonderful youth mentoring program in Littleton, ColoradoParenting teens can be an enormous challenge.  At TheKompound their non-profit foundation is designed to help kids improve their academics, fitness, discipline and self confidence. Every 1st and 3rd Friday of the month I come in and provide life skills classes to the teens and parenting classes to the adults.  Most recently we discussed how to make behavioral changes within a family unit.  Below is a link to the narrated video of the information or you can read the written version below.

I invite you to comment, discuss or throw out things that worked in your family as this is meant to be a resource for those families who are looking to influence positive change in their family structure.

Step 1
Be Specific

Many times families parenting teens are not sure where to start with behavioral challenges they are having with their kids.  Be specific about the issue at hand.

For example, if a child has a disrespectful attitude make sure you have the ability to denote specific behaviors that need to change (talking back, interrupting, poor language choices, etc.

Step 2
Make Sure The Behavior Can Be Measured

If you are not able to measure how you are going to record change in the behavior I promise you that you will not feel success because you have not defined what that would look like.  Parenting teens can be overwhelming at times and many times it can feel like their is no logical place to start.

Using the disrespectful behavior example, measuring how many times certain specific behaviors (talking back, disrespectful tones, etc) have occurred is necessary and then tracking throughout the change process is necessary to notice improvements.

Step 3
Make Sure It Is Attainable

When choosing specific behavioral goals make sure that you are setting goals for your family that are actually attainable.

For example, many families parenting teens want perfection out of the behavior change.  This is just not attainable.  Nor should you have low standards.  Talk in your family about what this would look like.

Step 4
Make The Goal Realistic

Families parenting teens who are at the point of wanting to set up a behavioral management program in their families have more often than not been dealing with a long pattern of difficult behavior and are sometimes rather exhausted.  They want the change to happen NOW and are frustrated when they are not seeing immediate changes.  Remember, you can have your end goal in site, but it is helpful to see the steps that will need to be taken in between.

Step 5
Set a Time Table For Your Desired Change

Time tables for change are helpful in keeping us on track and structured towards the desired results.  When setting a time table, again, make sure it is realistic and attainable for the specific behavioral goal you are creating while parenting your teen.  Please also keep in mind that many behavioral patterns have been set up and reinforced in kids for years and that change is possible, but not always immediate when parenting teens.

S.M.A.R.T Goals

Sound familiar?  Businesses use this ALL the time as a way to ensure production and profitability within the structure of the organization.  So why should your family be taken any less seriously?  Parenting teens is an undertaking for sure, but doesn’t have to be a miserable endeavor.  Structure, goals and predictable outcomes are possible.

As always…

You will need to decide the best way to implement behavioral change in your family especially when parenting teens.  No family is one size fits all.  Also, many times there are many variables creating specific challenges to circumstances within your home.  I would encourage you to see professional help if you are looking for specific ways to implement behavioral change within your home or specific approaches to parenting teens.


Sarah Houy | Counseling for teens, adults and couples.  Offices in Littleton and Greenwood Village.

Sarah Houy | Counseling for teens, adults and couples. Offices in Littleton and Greenwood Village.

My name is Sarah Houy and I am a behavioral health consultant specializing in working with teens, adults and couples.  I work collaboratively with my clients to achieve wellness is areas of addiction, anxiety, depression, trauma, relationships and family structure and parenting teens.  Click here to watch my intro video for a personal greeting from me.

I invite you to schedule a free consultation with me if you or your family are looking for assistance. Click here for more information.