Dealing With Troublesome Teens
One day, your angelic little 12-year-old daughter will go to bed peacefully clutching her pink childhood teddy, and wake up a screaming, hormonal teenage monster.
Covered in spots, your now 13-year-old will refuse to do her homework, express an interest in nothing but boys, and constantly yell at you for “ruining” her life. She will not do any chores, refuse to be seen with you in public, and chat incessantly with her friends on her mobile phone.
What can you do? Lock her up until she turns 18? Send her to boarding school? Kill her?
The Low-Down on AdolescenceAdolescence is the time when most teenagers seek to define themselves as individuals, distancing themselves from their parents and getting closer to their peers. This is normal behaviour, and shows that your teen is doing what virtually every teen does: growing up.
The difficulty, of course, is that adolescence is the time when parents most want to know what their children are doing – something hard to do when your teens are doing everything they can to move away from you – figuratively, if not literally.
If you worry that you haven’t a clue what is going on inside your teen’s head – or what they are really getting up to on evenings and weekends – take heart. There are ways to deal with troublesome teens in a constructive, positive fashion, one that will bring you and your teens closer together, instead of farther apart. After all, that’s the whole idea, isn’t it?
Top Tips for Dealing with Troublesome TeensWhile it may sound hard to believe, all teens want to valued, loved and respected. Unfortunately, they often act in such a way that loving, valuing and respecting them is all but impossible.
If you want a closer relationship with your teen, these top tips can help…
- Deal with issues in a positive manner, and be willing to negotiate. If you insist on always having things your own way, your plan will backfire. Listen to their needs, and barter, if needed.
- Set boundaries, but give them some freedom. Parents who keep their teenagers on too short a lead may have rebels on their hands in no time. Let them earn your trust, and reward them by allowing them to do more. The more they earn it, the more freedom they have.
- Be upfront. You’ll be surprised at how much your teen already knows about sex, drugs, alcohol etc. – even if you haven’t told them. They learn a lot from their peers, and you need to acknowledge that. Fill in the gaps and be honest about your concerns, mentioning the risks and the responsibilities.
- Never ridicule or humiliate your child, especially not in front of others. Of course you know better – but put yourself in their shoes. Learning through experience – within reason, of course – is all part of growing up.
- Don’t blame yourself. Being stroppy, rude and even cruel to their parents is all part of the teenage make-up. Remember what you were like as a teenager?
- Don’t forget that your teen is still a child – and still has that “childish” need to be loved. No matter how adult they may try to act, they still have childish needs and impulses. One of those is to know that their parents love them – and to hear it from time to time.
Being a teenager is wonderful, in all its madness. Most of us would love to live our teenage years all over again, despite the difficulties inherent in being a teen, if only we could.
Help your own teens enjoy their teenage years by setting boundaries, but being willing to negotiate. Listen to their needs and concerns, and express your own. Agreeing together on the rules can help your children stick to them.
Rights and ResponsibilitiesBeing a teenager comes with certain rights and responsibilities, and as a parent it’s up to you to impress upon your own children what those really are. It’s not an impossible task, and as long as the lines of communication remain open, it’s one that can be easily accomplished.
Just remember, one day your child will go to bed a rebellious, spotty, disrespectful and rude teenager, and wake up a brilliant, ambitious, respectful and polite 20-year-old…