Tom Barthel Consulting

Do you know how to react when your teenagers complain?

Know a troubled teen? If it’s someone else’s, you might feel opinionated about their behavior. If it’s yours, you’re likely feeling lost, embarrassed, and hopeless. But there’s a solution. Help your teen confront their behavior and its consequences. Take action with the tips provided. If it’s someone else’s teen, reach out with support and forward this email, reminding them that a better path is possible.

Parenting Tip For You

Teens often resort to blaming others when faced with problems, whether trivial or significant. From childhood crises to navigating the complexities of adulthood, complaints are a common occurrence. Parents may find themselves listening to complaints from both younger and older teens, even adult children, who may have contributed to their own issues through various means like substance abuse or untreated mental illness.

This constant cycle of complaints can be frustrating and demoralizing for parents who have invested years in guiding their teenagers. It’s disheartening to witness a lack of problem-solving skills despite efforts to instill better judgment. The urge to respond to their complaints may be strong, but there’s a desire to raise independent individuals rather than enabling dependency

Complaints left unchecked can spiral into destructive behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse or even criminal activities, adding another layer of concern for parents striving to steer their teens toward responsible adulthood. Wouldn’t it be a relief if your teenager took responsibility for solving their own problems, allowing you to finally rest from the constant emotional strain?

Here's a $100 tip for you

Whenever your teenagers come at you with these complaints or “poor me” type concerns you say this:

"So what are you going to do about it?"

And then refuse to continue the conversation until they answer.

1. This is for you so you can prevent young children from becoming troubled teens: 

Starting at age 6 years old, ask your kid this question, “what are you going to do about it?”  Ask your kid this every time they come home and share some news with you. A bad report card, beat up, had their heart broken, skinned their knee etc. This causes your kid to ask themselves what they are going to do about it.  This forces them to think in terms of consequences and taking actions to prevent them. It may not go well at first for your child but after 10 years of that your child will have quite a strong habit of thinking. The kind of thinking that builds resilience to teenage problems like drugs, peer pressure, money management, sexual pressure, bullying…and so on.

2. This is for you if you have teens with growing concerns: 

“Does the question ‘what are you going to do about it?’ relate to the chemically addictive properties of crack or crystal meth? No, because those drugs aren’t the root issue. While they’re harmful, addiction often begins well before their use, stemming from a teenager’s inability to manage their life. Poor problem-solving skills among troubled teens hinder their progress more than anything else. They lack practice in handling life’s challenges and become easily frustrated. In conversations, ending with ‘What are you going to do about it?’ prompts reflection. It’s crucial to offer minimal support and avoid doing everything for them, as enabling can devastate lives. Prepare for resistance; your teenager may not appreciate this approach initially.”

3. This is for you if you have teenager in crisis: 

Reviewing paragraphs 1 and 2, it’s essential to focus on preventing young children from developing issues and supporting teens facing growing concerns. Recognize the skills your teenager hasn’t yet acquired and adopt an attitude of “no time like the present to get started.” Acknowledge your role in contributing to their problem-solving challenges, offering support rather than blame.

Undoing their entrenched psychology will take patience and strategic efforts, akin to untangling a stubborn knot in a shoelace—one strand at a time. While it may be frustrating, with proper methods, it’s achievable. Many parents, including those in consulting services, successfully navigate this process daily.

If your teenager faces legal or academic trouble, or involvement with drugs, respond with the question, “So what are you going to do about it?” This approach can provoke introspection and prompt positive change, even from someone deeply entrenched in problematic behaviors. As someone who overcame significant challenges, I’ve experienced firsthand the transformative power of this approach.

So What Do I Do Now?

  1. Put up a one-page document on your fridge titled “Complaint Department”.
  2. Below that type these words “What are you going to do about it?” in big block letters.
  3. Then repeat the phrase regardless of the size of their complaint. Refuse to continue the conversation till they answer.
  4. You do not need your teenagers to like this, and you should be stubborn with it and not back down. This could cause all sorts of conflict which you now know you are parenting effectively.
  5. If you want to have some fun, ask your spouse this question too, they most likely won’t like it either.
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Complaint Department For Your Fridge

The biggest gift I have gotten from Tom’s seminars is a way to communicate with my daughter. Now she listens and responds to me, with a willingness to co-operate. We are re-kindling our relationship with each other at a more mature level, one step at a time, thank you Tom.
D.B. Rocky Mtn. House.

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P.S. If you know another parent who is struggling, call me now. Tell me about them. I can help you get them started in a new direction. 403-391-4184.


Tom Barthel