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Preventing Tween Behavior Problems

Your kid's been caught shoplifting, smoking, or cheating on a test. Now what? Buchanan's advice:

Lay down the law. Tell your tween why you disapprove, what the dangers are ("Smoking harms your lungs, so you'll get winded when you play soccer"), and why you don't want this to happen again.

Place the penalty. Come up with a reasonable consequence, such as taking away an enjoyable privilege (she can't go shopping with her buddies next weekend), but not so severe that you can't follow through.

Monitor her behavior. Stay rigorous about keeping track of her whereabouts and asking questions. Tell her: "As long as you have my trust, I'll give you more privileges. If you break it, I'll clamp down."

Praise honesty. If your child fesses up about a bad thing she did, hold off on the consequence for now and help her figure out ways to avoid the situation in the future.

Linda Rodgers, a former senior articles editor for Parenting, is now the mom of a 13-year-old.

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