Teenagers can be a handful, and they can feel like they’re drifting further and further away, too. It can be overwhelming to see your child behave in new and unfamiliar ways, and you may not know how to handle this at first.
But don’t worry – you can navigate these problematic parenting years with positive thinking and understanding! Here are three practical ways to deal with teenagers and three ways to strengthen the bond you share.
Three Effective Ways To Deal With Teenagers
Try these techniques when you must deal with a hormone-riddled teen.
All households need a set of rules, but parenting a teenager while ensuring boundaries are respected can be difficult. Here are some tips for doing so:
· Establish And Stand By Rules
Boundaries and rules need to be communicated to your teenagers to know what is expected of them. Initially, some compromise may be requested, so feel free to discuss things with them first until you come to a reasonable agreement. At the same time, remember that many teens like to push boundaries, so stand firm on boundaries once they’re agreed upon. It may be helpful to write down rules and have your teen sign off on them.
· Stay Calm When Rules Are Broken
Teenagers can be rule-breakers, and it’s not unusual for your kids at that age to begin testing limits and seeing what they can get away with. This means that you should prepare for the possibility that your teens will break the pre-agreed rules. It can be very aggravating when this happens, and you may feel angry as a result, but it’s essential to stay calm. You can walk away or take some deep breaths if necessary so that you can confront the behavior in a reasonable and fair but firm manner. Being led by anger will result in you taking action you’ll regret later on!
· Be Reasonable
Some parents can be extremely authoritarian with rules, setting nearly impossible boundaries and encroaching on the space of your teenager. For example, you shouldn’t set a bedtime of 7 pm for a 15-year-old – that’s not possible! But this extends to individual, less clear-cut circumstances, too. If your teenager has trouble with organization, it may be unreasonable to rule that their room must always be spotless. Have open discussions with your teenager about your concerns and the rules you wish to create, and take their input into account when deciding on reasonable boundaries.
· Enforce Consequences
When your teenager does break the rules, enforce reasonable consequences based on calm and rational thought. You don’t want to be so lenient that your teenagers don’t think the rules matter, but you also don’t want to turn into a dictator who makes harsh decisions that are disproportionate to the “crime.” When enforcing consequences, explain to your teenager what they did, why that has got them into trouble, and what the consequences now are. If this becomes a point of contention, you and your teenager can work on pre-agreed consequences to go with pre-agreed boundaries.
2. Keep An Eye On Areas Of Problems
Lots of teenagers get themselves into trouble over the years. Keeping a watchful eye on areas of note can be crucial to ensuring you nip the worst things in the bud and are ready to give support in other areas. Here are some tips for doing this:
· Be Aware Of Problem Actions
Teenagers like their privacy, but you still need to look out for them. This doesn’t mean you should disrespect their need for space – but you should be aware of specific actions and behaviors that indicate problems may be arising. Take note of behaviors like hiding things, lying, behaving in unusual ways, hanging out with the wrong people, becoming more withdrawn, and other notable actions. It is not uncommon for teenagers to act out, too, as a form of seeking attention for deeper problems, so pay attention and stay alert.
· Emphasize Trust Over Suspicion
When you have concerns about problem behavior, it’s good to bring them up. When you do so, focus on your trust in your teenager over any suspicion you have. Explain that you have concerns but want to trust their judgment and emphasize the need to set boundaries regarding the new problematic activity. Show that you want to trust them first and encourage them to open up by asking genuine questions instead of making your assumptions.
· Treat Threats Of A Crisis Seriously
If your teenager talks about doing harmful behavior or threatens to do something dangerous, take that seriously. Too often, parents roll their eyes and think teens “act out” in fake ways for attention. But even if that was the case, a teenager faking something for attention still needs attention. Take crises seriously, and don’t think twice about taking action or seeking help from professionals if your teen talks about harming themselves or others.
3. Don’t Compromise On Your Position As Parent
Parents often make the mistake of trying to be friends with their teenagers, but that’s not really what a kid needs! You are a parent in a position of authority, and wielding that power wisely is crucial to dealing with teens effectively. Here’s how:
· Manage Conflicts Intelligently
It’s tough to be a parent of a, particularly intense teenager! But it’s your responsibility to handle conflicts with your teen as a parent and adult would. Don’t stoop down to the level of your teenager, even if they’re acting out in negative ways. Express empathy for your child’s predicament, keep your cool with positive thinking and seek to pick your battles wisely. Remember, you are not on even footing here – you are an adult and a parent, and your teenager is growing, developing, and learning. They will make mistakes and be unfair, and you will have to be the “bigger person” – that’s just what it means to be a parent!
· Take Charge Of Reframing
It is a parent’s role to guide their child, and if your teenager has developed a negative view of the world, you can help them reframe it. Shift their perspective and draw their attention to the positive sides of a situation. Remind your teenager of the people around them that their actions affect. The better you get at modeling positive reframing, the more quickly your teen will follow suit.
· Don’t Give Away Your Power
Difficult teenagers may intentionally try to get a rise out of you in a “power move.” Don’t let them push your buttons! Stay calm and rational and, if needed, take a breather. Shut down any button-pushing with firm but reasonable correction, reaffirming your spot as an authority figure.
Three Ways To Strengthen The Bond With Teenagers
1. Respect Your Teen’s Individuality
Your teen is a whole person all on their own, and as a parent, it’s your job to understand that and to appreciate and respect the individual features of your teen. Here are some ways to do so:
· Let Their Friends In
Your teenager is going to have their friends, and you may not like all of them. But the best way to get to know those friends and learn more about your teen’s friendship dynamics is by letting their friends into your home. Make a space in your home that they can all hang out, preferably in an open area where you can casually walk by and keep an eye on them.
· Support Interests
Your teenager is bound to have a ton of personal interests, and you should support them where you can! If they like to dance, pay for lessons. If they enjoy theater, make sure you go and watch their shows. Or if they prefer sports, sign them up for related clubs and coaching sessions.
· Remember That Respect Goes Both Ways
It’s normal for parents to expect the respect of their kids, but your children deserve your respect, too. It’s a two-way street. Your teenager should be treated with kindness, patience, respect, and empathy, so don’t call them names, demean them, or ignore them.
2. Keep Lines Open
Teenagers tend to withdraw to themselves, but by keeping lines open, you can circumvent this. Here’s how:
· Use Effective Communication
You want to ensure that positive communication is a part of your relationship with your teen. Keep communication lines open and be kind and non-judgemental, so your teenagers always feel comfortable going to you with their questions or for advice. If your teenager doesn’t talk a lot, you can write notes to them, text them or use other forms of communication.
· Be Empathic
Your teenager wants to feel understood, and you must develop the empathy necessary for that. Instead of automatically assuming the worst, listen to your teenager carefully, express your understanding of what they face, and focus less on fixing things or reprimanding them. Support them, validate their thoughts, struggles, and experiences, and don’t judge them for what they feel and their questions.
· Be Available
Being available as a parent provides a teenager with the support they need for positive effects on their performance and personal wellbeing, and self-esteem. Please make yourself available for your children of all ages, and keep them in top priority above your other non-familial commitments.
3. Allow Desires For Independence
It’s natural for teenagers to want to be independent. You can’t take the reins off them entirely, but you should find a balance that lets teens explore their desires for such intelligence. Here’s how:
· Be Flexible With Freedom
Teenagers are in an exploratory phase of their lives. They want to experience independence and learn responsibility, and you can help facilitate this by being flexible with their freedoms. The goal is to teach your teenager that their personal decisions determine the outcomes they face. You are free to extend and retract levels of freedom for your teenager, as long as you communicate why you’re doing so in a positive way.
· Give Them A Chance To Solve Problems
It’s tempting to want to jump in and take over for teenagers, solving their problems for them, but you should give your kids a chance to solve things on their own. After you’ve listened and been empathetic, encourage your teenager to find solutions independently. Of course, you’re always available to offer help, but you should make it clear that you want your teenager to solve their problems, face their consequences, and walk their path.
· Treat Them Like A Teenager, Not A Child
While you shouldn’t treat a teenager as an adult, you shouldn’t treat them like a child. Though they may always be a baby in your eyes, your teen has grown up from that stage. Remember to treat them like teenagers instead of like children, and this will give you more perspective into how much independence they should have at this stage of their life.
Parenting can be challenging, but it’s certainly rewarding. The teen years are often hard to deal with, but if you manage those things well and strengthen your bond with your teen in the meantime, you and they will turn out just fine!