Does it feel like your teenagers are being increasingly disrespectful and need a little attitude adjustment?
You’re having some morning quiet time and in walks your teenager. You can feel their arrival because the energy in the air completely shifts. You can almost cut the tension with a knife. One of two things are about to happen!
One the ‘quick getaway’ where your teenager attempts to avoid all eye contact and sprint to their bedroom without having to engage in any kind of normal human interaction. Or two, the stomping feet followed by a dramatic slamming of the door. Overly exaggerated sighing and glares in every direction possible – their siblings, the dogs or any other living creature in their general vicinity. If you make an effort to engage this will be met with eye rolling or the silent treatment.
Dealing with a disrespectful and bad attitude teenager can be utterly exasperating. At any given time, you may encounter multiple personalities. Wondering if something dangerous is about to happen or perhaps an anxiety attack over nothing. There are times when you catch a glimpse of that sweet child who used to accept cuddles and kisses, look up at you with complete adoration or told you, you were the best mom in the world. In those short moments, you find yourself wanting to go back in time just for a moment. And right when you think you’ve got a solid grip on them; they show you just how far you really are.
The game of adolescence is a complicated and frustrating one. Your teenagers are determined to keep you on your toes never knowing what may happen from hour to hour. But solutions are coming your way, here are 5 tips to practice. Giving parents back the control and hope that they can find a more peaceful rhythm with their teenagers.
- Recognize that teenagers love pushing your buttons
When your teenager confronts you head on with a face full of attitude and stubbornness it can be so difficult to keep yourself calm. Here a story from a mom with two teenage girls who appeared to be full of kindness and immense patience, you wouldn’t think she’d ever loose her cool with her girls.
At the dinner table one evening they were all sitting down to a lovely meal. When her oldest daughter started going on and on about how terrible her life was and that everyone was annoying her. Only because she had, had a very drama filled day at school and felt she could take it out on everyone else at the table. Creating such an uncomfortable and unpleasant energy. The drama continued to intensify until the mom finally had enough! She picked up her daughter’s dinner plate and threw her dinner in the sink! “You won’t eat tonight!” she shouted, “You’re lucky I love you enough to walk away.”
We are not condoning this behavior but simply an example of how your teenagers pushes you to your last nerve. The key here is to realise that when we show the same intensity of anger and shouting it only adds to fueling the fire we are trying to extinguish. We then show a poor example of a role model, reinforcing the negative behavior and actions we’re trying to replace with positive, proactive, respectfully ones.
- Keep yourself calm
This is my personal favorite! The absolute better approach is to keep your voice at a low to normal volume, a mellow pitch with no inclines in your tone. Set out the family house rules ahead of time and let your teenager know that you’re interested in listening or talking with them about their issues but only if they are calm in doing so.
Teenagers love being in charge, they expect parents to meet them on their territory, thinking that will give them the advantage. Don’t be fooled! By refusing to meet them on their page of dramatic intensity, gives you back the parental control and may in some case be enough to defuse the status quo. If your teenager needs some time to cool off allow them to do so, reschedule your discussion for a later time. Make it clear that you are interested in resolving their issues and that you aren’t going to let them off the hook that easily.
- Taking things personally
Teenagers are experts, they know exactly how to use words or past issues to hurt you. They understand just how to inflict pain with a simple comment. Some teenagers have a victim attitude, that the world is out to get them and it’s all your fault as their parents.
However painful as it might be, you need to realize it isn’t personal. Your teenagers are living the most turmoiled, hormone filled, confusing body issued time of their lives. Oh, and their brains aren’t yet fully developed either, they require help to cope with this stage of teenage hood. Not to mention that they are also stuck between becoming an adult and still being a kid. Independence vs rule following. They are desperately seeking the approval of everyone in their lives from parents to peers, what a stressful mind frame.
- Reinforcing rules and respect
Showing your teenagers fierce love is your no.1 job but that doesn’t mean you need to be a push over. Your unconditional love remains constant, but the family house rules still apply.
Your second most important job as a parent is setting expectations and boundaries, children crave discipline, this is how they learn, and to show them when they’ve crossed the line.
They are allowed to express their feelings, but as parents you need to guide them on how to correctly show their feelings in a respectful manner. With social media influences your teenagers are exposed to many poor examples of how to behave. Be the balancing voice of reason so your teenagers know how to speak to each other with kind words. Challenging them to think about how the things they say affect others is vital when it comes to developing empathy.
- Skip the nagging
I know this one is a hard one, because you feel that your teenager never listens to you so you repeat your message 3 or 4 times in hopes that something might sink in. But I’m afraid you actually doing the opposite. When it comes to enforcing consequences keep your message to a minimum, one sentence and that’s it! They will take you way more seriously.
Teenagers think they are the world’s smartest human beings, the funny things is that their brains aren’t fully developed yet. They are living a stage of life where they are prone to impulsive behavior and they have difficulty grasping the long-term consequences of their decisions. I don’t mean to burst your bubble but no teenager on the face of this planet has ever walked away from a parental lecture and suddenly experienced an epiphany about the value of doing chores or getting their homework done. There is no amount of nagging that is going to talk them into being less self-centered or more responsible.
The secret to your success isn’t in proving them right or wrong. It doesn’t need to be a struggle or a shouting match. It is simply about setting expectations and enforcing consequences.
The praise power
Praising your teenagers has a powerful and lasting effect on them, way into their adult years. When your children show maturity and responsibility in handling a situation well, it’s a vital step to praise them. Express how proud you are of them and how well you think they’ve done. Underneath all the disrespectful behavior is a child craving your love and acceptance.
For more support visit www.redthinking.co.za and book your free consultation. We are here to teach your children to live a happy and positive life.