Fish stories are often very predictable. But this fish story is anything but predictable. This real life fish story beautifully illustrates how expressing heartfelt appreciation has the power to deeply connect one human being to another. With this insight, parents can unleash the amazing power of gratitude to help reclaim a troubled teenager or just use it to improve the parent-teen relationship.

So I’m on my morning mastermind call when my colleague Nevel began sharing a story of when he worked as a prison guard. He related how a coworker, whom we’ll call Fred, loved all things about fish! Fred loved to eat fish, he love to catch fish and he loved to talk about fishing! Nevel reminisced how Fred would enthusiastically tell coworkers his freshly caught fish stories and describe in delicious detail the experiences he enjoyed regarding the prize that ultimately landed on his dinner table.

Pretty soon, fellow fishermen and co-workers would literally share their own 'catch of the day' with Fred, gifting him with pounds of fish on a regular basis! Now here's an important part, Fred would always show appreciation unparalleled! Fred would wholeheartedly convey his gratitude in a way that the giver of the gift felt like the recipient of the gift rather than the other way around!

Soon the cooks in the cafeteria wanted to hop on the "gratitude fish bandwagon" so they would sneak Fred an extra fish sandwich which was strictly forbidden by prison officials! The lure of Fred's lavish gratitude seemed to override any fear of reprisal from their superiors.

Can you see an analogy developing between appreciation and behavior? The behavior you acknowledge is the behavior you will see more of! In this case it is positive behavior; however this rule applies to negative behavior as well. Focus on negative behavior and you’ll get more of the negative behavior. Focus on positive behavior and you’ll get more of the positive behavior.

So why not take the lesson from Fred and begin to show appreciation for the things your troubled teenager is DOING RIGHT? When you do you will begin to see more of the same pleasing behavior!

Will gratitude parenting work for troubled teenagers? The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Actually it’s the first place to start! Every human being has a craving to be appreciated. It is one of our core needs as human beings. When that need is not being met, negativity sets in and displeasing behavior is the result. Alternatively, when the opposite happens or the core need to be appreciated is met, positivity sets in and happiness is a result.

This Month’s Parenting Challenge: Hop on the 'gratitude fish bandwagon' by looking for, finding and genially appreciating your teen three times each day.

Begin to show sincere appreciation to your teen regarding little things, such as “Thank you for hanging up your jacket!” or “I so appreciate you calling to let me know you are running late! Now I won’t worry!” “Thanks for joining us for dinner tonight. I know you are busy, but it really means a lot to me to spend this time with you!” And most of all let your teen know that you are thankful to have been given the privilege to have him or her as your child.
Soon you will notice that your teen will begin doing more things to please you because she will be magnetically drawn to those positive feelings that gratitude will well up inside of her. It’s natural for her to want to experience more of the same!

Next your child will be reciprocating or mirroring back your attitude of gratitude. You’ll likely notice, while subtle at first, she’ll be appreciating back the things you do for her! She will begin to model your behavior, which gives you yet another thing to appreciate her for. “It makes me feel so good to know you appreciated dinner tonight! Thank you!” or simply, “That’s so nice of you to say! Thanks!”

Pretty soon you'll begin to see a side of your defiant tween or teen you might have thought was long gone... the desire to please you! It is also possible that you too will notice something you might have forgotten, your defiant teen has a lot of great qualities; you might have just been hyper-focused on the negative behavior which overshadowed all the many things your teenager was doing right!

May we always remember that everyone has a core need and desperately wants to feel appreciated! Dale Carnegie aptly stated, "Here is a gnawing and unfaltering human hunger, [to feel appreciated] and the rare individual who honestly satisfies this heart hunger will hold people [even grumpy teenagers] in the palm of his or her hand and "even the undertaker will be sorry when he dies." Dale Carnegie

It really is NOT a ‘fish story’ how parenting with gratitude works to heal and rebuild the suffering parent-teen relationship! Be patient in the beginning and do not expect too much at first. However, when you continue to appreciate your teen and expressing gratitude becomes a way of life your relationship will gradually improve and now you are one step closer to reeling back in your troubled teenager!

Author's Bio: 

Deaunna Evans, MCC is owner and head parenting coach at Super Moms Coaching. She helps frustrated parents significantly turnaround their defiant teen’s behavior in 30 days or less! If you are struggling with a troubled teen or difficult tween you are invited to try parent coaching risk free! Join Coach Evans for a complimentary parenting session, “Unlock Your Parenting Powers Breakthrough!” Schedule by phone 615.302.0811 or online at Email: