Teen Talk: Using A Reset Button...

Teen Talk - Live

Chris is taking “Teen Talk” on the road. If you are a member of a parent group or responsible for finding engaging speakers for student or youth groups, please contact Chris at www.chrislincoln-speaker.com

Chris Lincoln MEd
Chris Lincoln MEd

Reset Button

There are no do-overs in real life...

Actually not quite true, ask a golfer about mulligans.

Previously I wrote about the frustrations that can arise when Teen and Parent clash. It can be over practical or emotional things, and it is exceedingly hard to keep reason in the vicinity of these “discussions”. My premise was that we could learn from the Teens themselves, and utilize a reset button.

Words or actions by the changeling can seriously undermine any trust earned with the adults in their life. Time to use the reset button. I use that term rather than forgive and forget, because both parties should not forget, there are too many lessons to be learned, and forgiveness is another reinforcer of the (adult/child) power imbalance. I know that mutual understanding would affect a better resolution than simple forgiveness. I am an advocate for discipline smarter, not harder, which ends up benefiting everyone. If you have ever felt punished yourself when following through with a sanction you imposed, you know exactly what I mean.

I got this concept from the adolescents themselves. It is remarkable how often, and how easily, they press the reset button after incidents between them. For some boys it is almost a right of passage. The number of boys who became fast friends only after a physical altercation is astounding. Girls do have more of a tendency to let incidents fester and linger, but usually this happens where there is already a determination that they don’t/won’t like each other. If it is a friend they can reset almost immediately.

I’ve witnessed teens argue passionately about something, the argument escalating, with both parties digging further into the past for evidence of how terrible and wrong the other is. A point is reached where the only options are physical blows, or total capitulation. Often, they recognize the impasse at the same time, realize there is no way forward – and then press the reset button, simultaneously burying the altercation and moving on. An example:

“I hate you.”

“I never liked you to start with.”

“We are so done.”


“Oh, I mean it.”

“So do I.”

“Don’t ever call me again.”

“Done. You’d better not text me either.”




“So what did you think of Amy’s shoes…”

Translating this into a practical approach for adults, especially if the adult is upset, or angry, is the challenge. I think it can be done and I keep looking for new ways to do it. I’ll use my cell phone ‘policy’ as an example. In my middle school the rule was that cell phones must be off and kept in the students locker during class time. Most of the students have phones, and the most common use is to check with their parental unit / taxi driver, on when and where they will be picked up. This means there is a frenzy of phone activity at 3:00pm. Not having access to their phone at that time would cause very real problems as they juggle sports, study hall and social activities.

Before the above policy, students would have their phones on, and with them all day. There was never a legitimate reason for having the phone, and the temptation to text was great. I actually had a dexterous group of seventh graders who could text with the phones in their pockets! The temptation to take photos (of each other, of tests, of the inside of their open mouths) was another great concern. I talked with a group of students and surveyed when they actually needed their phones. Every situation was covered with allowing use before and after school, and during school with teacher permission. We put the policy in place and I checked back a few weeks later on how it was going. Surprisingly, not having the phone with them all the time was a relief (we only texted because someone was texting us). And there were several times when students asked to use the phone during the day – all legitimate and appropriate (Mom was having an operation, Dad texted to say it all went well, student forgot she had volleyball practice, left a message for mom to pick her up later, etc).

The only remaining issue was what to do with the students who broke the rules. A phone going off in the middle of a class is a dead giveaway. The teachers would confiscate the phone, which would make its way down to my office, where the student could pick it up at 3:00pm. I wanted to reinforce the rule, but also not make a Federal case out of it. I needed a quick way to make my point and the student wanted out of my office and on to their next activity with minimum delay. So, I have the transgressor take a picture of me, with a stern face and a wagging finger, which they have to put up as their home screen for a week. Quick, easy, funny, makes the point and I have very few repeat offenders. A great reset button I think.

Space is another area of great contention. Issues tend to surface more often in the home, where there is the greatest amount of shared space. As with most animals journeying into adulthood, territory is critical, and invasion of space vigorously defended. It is also another area that contains an imbalance of power: “Your” room, but “My” house. It also dramatically impacts Mother-Daughter and Father-Son relationships. For example; for women, it is often very difficult to have another “woman” in her kitchen, for men, another “man” in their workshop or den. In both cases the adults are conflicted because they want them to learn to use the tools in either setting, but the tools are often very personal, often gifts with sentimental value. The incoming adultlet does not value the tools in the same way, to them they are just tools. The adult sees this as disrespectful. Problem. The only solution, I believe, is to share the stories as you share the equipment, but with an attention span of a mosquito on speed, I can’t guarantee success in reaching the teen.

Simply put, if things get too intense, it is (short term) acceptable and understood to change the focus. A great bullfighter never actually stands in the way of a charging bull!

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Comments 20 comments

KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

I think the reset button idea is great. I work with Intellectually Disabled middle school children in a public school system. They will do something wrond and not remember it to seconds later. You can't cruicify a child for a mistake-we all make them.

As for cell phones - they are a problem and always will be. I love your way of "punishing" the student with that gentle reminded of your disapproving face on their phone everytime they open it up. Great hub.

ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

Thanks KKG.

The challenges of teaching middle school are complex enough without the added components of what you deal with every day. My hat's off to you,

with respect.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Hi Chris, I totally enjoyed reading your hub. And the concept you discuss here is something I resonate with since I also work with preschool kids. Thumbs up :)

Have you heard the great news? Your hub is a Hubnuggets nominee! Yup, it is! Check it our by clicking on this link. I promise there will only be laughter and fun and a place where one can cast one's vote. http://hubpages.com/hubnuggets6/hub/Hungarian-HubN... Be sure to vote and ask your family and friends and even non hubbers to vote too. The more votes, the merrier. Enjoy the kids and Hubnuggets.

Mickie Hezlep 6 years ago

This is a necessary reminder for all parents. I know that I have taken incidents of "disrespect" for my expensive kitchen knives far too seriously when my teenager slams one into the granite in her haste to cut an apple. "But Mom, I wouldn't do that if I didn't have braces!". I then realize that she would be more than happy to take a big bite out of it and be one her way but she is deferring to her orthodontist's rule about apples and braces leading to broken wires.

In short, I may not like the fact that my knife edges need sharpening more often but I have a child who is trying to do the right thing, at least in one regard. This is a perfect time for me to hit my reset button. How nice to go from aggravated to appreciative that there was a positive effort being put forth after all.

ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


Although I love our preshoolers, I know my limits. Kindergarten kicked my butt (My next hub will be on the topic).

I'm really missing the kids this year as I was 'retired' from the school I helped found (apparently I didn't fit!?) and administration/teaching jobs are very thin on the ground.

So, the positives I've been getting from the Hubnuggets team have truly made my week, thank you for that!


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


It's the little stuff, so easy to miss, that can drive us crazy one minute, and have us counting our blessings the next. You have a daughter with a heart of solid gold. There is a really good chance that what ever she's doing, there is (in her mind, at least) a very good reason. I knew this from the very first time I met her. She's special, you are truly blessed


fetty profile image

fetty 6 years ago from South Jersey

I love your common sense approach and the humor you employ with most of your decisions. I taught middle school before the use of cell phones. I was the lucky one. Great hub and welcome to Hubpages. Congrats. on your nomination, too.

ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


Thank you. You know the strange creatures in our midst well! It has not become any easier, but the kids are still the same. I think of them as armor-plated marshmallows, all hard and crunchy on the outside, and full of mush inside. Is there any adult who would want to go back to those times?


Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 6 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

Reset button works great if the both sides are ready to use it, after pressing reset button previous argument seems like fun and non-important.

Thanks for inspiring Hub - it reminded me on many things.

ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


It is always hard to let logic overcome strong emotions, but, the idea of giving each other just the smallest amount of space, is usually a succesful first step.

Thanks for reading,


profile image

Summergirl1977 6 years ago

The cell phone issue died quickly in our house when Jacob accidentally "washed" his with his sheets one week after getting one. We'll try again in 8th grade...

The reset button is something I've used especially when we both have let our emotions get the better of us, however, Jacob quickly caught on and his first request when given a consequence such as being grounded is a do over...

ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


You're hooked now! Thanks for reading, now do some writing, you know you have some interesting hubs inside you! Glad to have you here on hubpages - there is some fantastic writing to be discovered.


CarolineChicago profile image

CarolineChicago 6 years ago from Chicago, IL

Thank you so much for this hub. We have a 13yo daughter and 11 & 10yo sons. Talking to Teens is a big issue in our house right now. I find that I've used the reset button instinctively over the last couple of weeks--and now here is your great Hub validating that approach. Thanks again for a great article!

ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


That made my morning! I hope that my writing can assist in some small way, and validating someone going through this '"special" time is exactly what I'd hoped to do. Please write back or pose any questions you may have, as I would like to be as interactive and relevent as possible,

Good luck, and don't forget to laugh (Yes, they are that funny!)


AngRose profile image

AngRose 6 years ago

Mosquito on speed. Could anyone have summed it up better? I think not. You've captured the very essence of teenagers in your awesome hubs. Thanks so much for making me smile, through a very "painful" subject. Can you tell I have a teen? I made it through the first one, there is hope at the end of the tunnel!

ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


Thank you for the kind words, and the follow. I have two excellent resources to draw upon, my wife, who showed me how parenting could be done (very different from my upbringing), and many years spending my days with these lovely creatures!

I got to see patterns over time from a unique perspective. I hope I can share a little of what I learned, and reduce the stress in a household or two...


Pixienot profile image

Pixienot 6 years ago from Clarksville, Indiana

Is there a "reset button" for adult children? Just wondering out loud!

Great article and good balance. I like that.

ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


Having just experienced the stress of Christmas and family, I think there is...We have the ability to simply ignore the elephant in the room and all act in some strange version of normal for a while. Adults do it for the "sake of...(insert, children, the best, mom, etc)"

Still stressful, but it allows us to manage somehow.

Thanks for the read, comment and follow. Most of my writing is intended to give people a laugh (save the Teen Talk hubs) - which is probably my way of pressing that reset button...


TeenDad 5 years ago

I noticed all the comments were from women but I think more dads should read these teen things. I totally see my kids doing this.

Great Hub

Off to read the last ones

ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 5 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


I do have a couple of dad readers, jsearam and attempted humor leave me comments, but I take your point, and thank you for it.


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