Just when you thought that the 2 AM feedings, terrible twos, toddler temper tantrums and back-to-school issues are a thing of the past- you are suddenly faced with teenage attitude and behavior problems. Teenage years can be a time of upheaval and confusion for both parents and the adolescents going through them. This is the time when conflicts intensify between parents and teenagers. It is also a delicate period where parents have to help kids grow into the distinct individuals they will become. So today we will touch up on some strategies and easy ways that can help parents cope with teenage attitude and behavior issues:
1. Educate yourself
Read all you can about teenage years and even think back to the time when you yourself were one. Remember your struggles with body changes, acne etc. Doing so will help you expect mood changes in your otherwise sunny child. The more you know what to expect, the better you will be able to cope with the child’s tantrums or mood swings.
2. Talk with your teen
If you are facing trouble dealing with difficult teenage daughter or son, chances are you aren’t communicating well with them. The following tips can help:
- Avoid lecturing-Stop telling your child how things were in your time or how you think they ought to be.
- Do not act as if you have all the answers-Ask your teen her/his ideas about ways to deal with an issue. Get their inputs and ideas as this will help them know that you respect them.
- Stick to subject at hand and stop being judgmental.
- Do not interrupt-Let your child speak her/his mind.
- Respect your child’s point of view
Eliminate all distractions when you talk with your child. Do try and seize opportunities to communicate with your teen-be it in the car ride to/from school or at the dinner table each night.
3. Do things together
It is very important to develop common interest with your teenager-be it watching sports or movies or an activity you enjoy doing together. When you enjoy common interests and hobbies, you get great sources that inspire future conversations.
4. Avoid over-reacting
Stay calm no matter what-this is very important when dealing with typical teenage behavior and attitudes. If you aren’t fond of the way they wear their hair or dress up, do not say anything to them; rather, speak with a friend or spouse. Over-reacting does not help in any way-it just shifts focus from what really matters.
5. Set rules
It is very important to talk to your teenager before you establish rules especially ones regarding bedtime, curfew time etc. Post the rules in a common area where everyone can see them. This will prevent your teenager from breaking them. Also discuss beforehand what the punishment should be for breaking rules. These could be taking away privileges like Internet access or grounding the teen. Always listen before you act though-sometimes your child might have a valid reason for breaking the rules. At the same time consistency is essential as you follow through the rules. DO not bend the rules over and over that they become a joke to the child.
6. Pick your battles
It is very important that you pick and choose your battles when it comes to teenage behavior issues. For example, you may want to overlook the child’s dressing, dyeing her/his hair in funky colors etc but you have to be strict about use or drugs, tobacco and alcohol.
7. Avoid setting high expectations
Let your teenager know that you love and care about them enough to see that they do well in their studies and behave in a socially acceptable manner. However, if you constantly impose very high expectations despite the fact that you see them trying hard, your teenager is going to be unhappy. So set appropriate expectations that your child is able to meet.
8. Place yourself in her/his shoes
When you empathize with your teen, you will be in a better position to understand what he or she is going through. Remember that your teenager will feel all grownup one minute and vulnerable and helpless the next. So do try to understand these changes and be supportive parent.
9. Resolve fights peacefully
Instead of shouting and trying to resolve things when tempers are high, it is best to walk away and calm down. Come back to the argument later so you can give a meaningful thought to the matter at hand.
10. Inform and stay informed
Teenage times are the times when children want to experiment with stuff. Keep an eye on your child’s friends and make sure you know what they are doing. Do not spy on the child- give them the privacy they need but at the same time, do have a talk about teenage pregnancy, drugs, alcohol and other sensitive issues. Regularly communicate with your child’s teachers and other parents at school. Attend all the PTA meetings and stay in the know.
11. Watch out for warning signs
Is your child showing sudden changes like drastic weight loss, appetite changes, moodiness, skipping school, poor grades, or constantly talking about suicide? It is very important to take these changes seriously. Seek help from school counselors or professional therapists immediately.
12. Know that this too shall pass
Often when you are dealing with teenage behavior problems, you wonder whether these things will ever pass. It helps to know that eventually they will and that your child will soon become independent, responsible and communicative adult. Keep working with your child, supporting him/her and let them know that you are in this together.
Every parent will eventually have to deal with typical teenage behavior and attitudes. Take a positive approach and always remember that parenting with love even in moments of frustration is the most effective way to deal with these years.