How to Avoid Bargaining with Your Teen

“Okay, okay, I’ll let you go to the party if you stop bugging me about it.”

“I already told you John couldn’t come over, but I’ll let it go this one time.”

“If you do your homework on time, I’ll let you spend the night at Rachel’s house, even though I don’t approve of co-ed sleepovers.”

Do these scenarios sound familiar? Does your teen beg and plead to get his way until you finally just give in? Does “no” really mean “maybe” in your household?

Parent Bargaining with Teenage Sone

Parents often fall into the trap of bargaining with their child, sometimes to make their own lives easier or because they want to be “friends” with their child, and sometimes because they feel guilt or shame about issues from the past such as getting a divorce, moving the family, or working too many hours.

According to Robbi O’Kelley, MSW, LCSW, CADCII, the Executive Director at an all-girls therapeutic boarding school for 10- to 14-year-olds, parents often fall into the bargaining trap when they are unclear about which rules are negotiable and which are non-negotiable. After years of working with parents and their children, she warns that although bargaining with your child may resolve the immediate conflict, a pattern of bargaining could indicate an unhealthy disruption in the balance of power in the parent-child relationship.

Relinquishing Your Parental Authority

Bargaining is often a sign that parents are losing authority over their child, particularly when they begin bargaining about rules that are, or should be, “hard lines in the sand,” says O’Kelley. Teens and preteens may feel a misplaced sense of entitlement that begins to wear away at a parent’s authority.

Continue reading for tips on avoiding power struggles with your teen >>

Someone I Care About Is an Alcoholic: What Can I Do to Help?

If you are concerned about a friend or family member who is either abusing alcohol or dependent on alcohol, there are several things you can do to help.

First, gather as much information as you can about alcoholism, alcohol abuse, and treatment options. Talk to your friend or family member only when you have some good, practical information.

Timing is everything, so hold off on talking to your friend or family member until shortly after an alcohol-related problem has occurred. This will help put things into perspective and provide a very real, undeniable example of the negative effect alcohol is having on the person’s life. Be sure to wait until the person is sober and calm. Don’t approach him or her immediately after a fight, the loss of a job, or any other serious life event. Give him or her enough time to settle down, as the two of you will then be able to talk more rationally.

Before you confront the person, take time to think through what you want to say. Consider writing out some notes to take with you. Think about specific examples of how drinking has affected the person’s life, the steps he needs to take toward getting help, and what the consequences will be if he refuses.

Learn how to help an alcoholic family member or friend >>

Jenny’s Corner – 5 Star Tips with a Summer Camp Twist!

Jenny Salkewicz, Kitchen Manager, spent 5 years in fine dining restaurants in the Napa valley before joining Talisman Camps, a special needs camp in North Carolina.

Omega-3 oils have received a lot of attention in the media lately. But are they snake oil or miracle oil? The answer, says Aaron McGinley, Summer Camp Manager at Talisman Programs, is probably both.

These heart healthy oils, which can be found in everything from flax seed to fish oil, have been used by many parents of children with special needs to supplement their child’s diet. Although the jury is still out on whether Omega-3 oils help young people with ADHD, Asperger’s, or similar challenges, Aaron believes the oils have proven to be a healthy addition to most diets.

Jenny Salkewicz, the full-time Kitchen Manager at Talisman Programs, creatively incorporates Omega-3 oils into a number of meals at the special needs summer camps and in the semester-long school program. She says, “Flax seeds are full of Omega-3 oils. And they are so small, the kids hardly notice if you sprinkle a few onto a pizza crust before you bake it.”

To learn more about Jenny and how her garden-to-plate philosophy fits in with Talisman’s holistic approach to helping children and teens with ADHD or Asperger’s, visit