Does your once affectionate child now respond to you with one word answers and annoyed eye-rolling? Do you miss your little chatterbox’s endless questions about how things work, or monsters under the bed whilst waiting at the freshly slammed door to open up?!
First things first, take a deep breath mom and dad, and welcome to parenting a teenager! You make the rules, they break them. You ask questions, they ignore you, you say: “Do this.” They respond with: “Make me!” All too familiar, right?
They know how to push your buttons and instinctively come up with an arsenal of tools to get what they want and, on top of all that, have the ability to make you feel like the worst parent ever! They test every boundary, limit and rule; c’mon it’s their job!
Remember, being a teen is hard. They are faced with new emotions and confusion about how to be in this place that’s not quite childhood, but not yet adulthood either. The prefrontal cortex does not become fully developed until mid-twenties; therefore it is normal for teens to be irrational in their thought process and decision making.
So, how could you get them to listen, to be respectful? Discipline as we know it, backfires with teens. If you come down like a sledgehammer, you can count on open rebellion!
Here’s the thing, it is possible to have a healthy, trusting relationship with your teen during this notoriously challenging time, but you’re going to need a few tricks up your sleeve.
Here are a few strategies:
- Keep your sense of humour. To a child who’s blowing off homework try: “Grade 8 is going to be the best two years of your life!”
- Let go of the small stuff. Make sure your teen knows the non-negotiable rules; stick to the important stuff. Trust me; you’ll both survive a messy room.
- Stop the yelling. Commit to a respectful tone.
- Resist any temptation to teach, lecture, criticize or even solve their problems. Unless they ask for advice. What they need is your genuine interest and acceptance. Be a sounding board, not a prescriber, and you’ll find your teen coming back for more.
- Show them your imperfections. Show them that you are doing the best you can with what you have. Keep it real.
- Welcome their friends into your home.
- Ask them about their music. True, it may not be Bon Jovi or Air Supply (Oh dear!) But music speaks to teens on that emotional level we as parents are so desperate to access. Ask them to play their favourite song; be very careful not to show criticism or you will lose your credibility.
- Keep it casual. Instead of a formal sit-down, try to communicate your values, attitudes and rules in more casual conversations.
- Remember “talk” comes in many forms. You don’t always have to be talking to communicate. Share quiet company. Watch a TV show together; sometimes simple, pleasant togetherness speaks volumes.
- Show your love. Spend one-on-one time. Take him to a sports game or take her for a manicure. Choose something they will enjoy.
- Be available when your teen wants to talk. For most teens that means late at night over a snack.
- Think he could look better with neater hair? Be careful with this one. Make suggestions tactfully and only once. After that it will be perceived as rejection.
- DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY! Let the hurt go, lower your voice and respond calmly.
Very often being a good parent is having the courage to rethink your parenting style.
Remember, you’ve survived the 2am feedings and the toddler tantrums. You can do this. Hang in there!
Source: www.theguardian.com, www.denvercouselingoptions.com, www.quickanddirtytips.com, www.wikihow.com, www.psychologytoday.com, www.ahaparenting.com, www.risk-within-reason.com, www.webmd.com, www.imom.com, expertbeacon.com, kidshealth.org, www.understood.org, www.today.com