How to Give Tough Love

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Tough love is a concept that is easier said then done for many people. When you show tough love, you are supposed to let your loved one learn from the consequences of his actions. Parents sometimes have an especially difficult time stepping back and not rescuing their teenager or adult child from natural consequences. In most cases, however, tough love is exactly what the troubled person needs to become a productive member of society.

Decide

Decide where your boundaries will be. State them clearly. Before implementing tough love principles, you may have been lenient and inconsistent in setting boundaries and sticking to them. By stating what your non-negotiable boundaries are from this point forward, you are taking an important first step in using tough love.

Refuse

Refuse to continue enabling your loved one. Regardless of what has happened in the past, the time has come for your loved one to face the natural consequences of her behavior. If you make excuses for, cover up, or step in and rescue her, you are enabling her. Discuss the fact that you will no longer be rescuing her and that she will face consequences for actions beforehand–so everybody is on the same page.

Maintain

Maintain your resolve. It is relatively easy to set boundaries and announce you will no longer rescue your loved one from his own actions. When something happens, though, it can be difficult to keep to the tough love principles. The importance of maintaining your resolve, standing strong and not giving in cannot be overstated.

Develop

Develop a plan of action. Whether it will be providing a list of friends who are willing to let your loved one spend the night if your door is locked or choosing to notify your bank at the first sign of fraudulent activity, developing steps that you will take if rules are broken will help you take action if it occurs.

Show Respect

Show your loved one the respect you wish in return. Tough love doesn’t mean lack of love. It is important to show respect to your loved one throughout the tough love process. Refuse to argue, insult or get engaged in an emotional argument will also help you maintain your objectives. Showing respect for your loved one while at the same time demonstrating a refusal to tolerate his actions underscores the principles of tough love.

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