If you are the parent of a teen, then you are probably one of the most hated people on the planet – by your own child. It’s not fair and it’s not fun, but it is a fact. The good news is this will only last a few short years. The bad news is you may need several wigs to replace all the hair you pull out. Here are a few guidelines to troubleshoot potential problems:
Don’t Take the Bait
If your teen is being rude and disrespectful towards you (eye-rolling doesn’t count), don’t get sucked into a power struggle. Rather than arguing and letting everyone get riled up, step back and wait for things to calm down. Otherwise, you will show your sassy teen how they can push your buttons. Choose your battles and decide if this is one worth going to the mat over. If it is and you are unable to work out a solution, then there will need to be consequences.
Consequences can be very effective if they are used as a tool to motivate your child to change or improve their behavior. The type of consequences will be contingent on the infraction. Some examples are taking on extra chores, losing texting privileges, putting the kibosh on video games, or an old-fashioned grounding. For more serious offenses, having your child participate in community service can have desirable results. So can going to school with a truant teen and attending classes with them to make sure they don’t skip.
Unless you have a crystal ball, it’s hard to predict when your teen’s Evil Twin is going to make an appearance and how long it will be around. However, during quieter moments give some thought to how you would like to respond in certain situations.
For example, if your teen made a sarcastic or nasty comment about doing a chore, but still did the chore – let it slide. However, if he was swearing or was hurtful to you or another family member, calmly take away his smartphone for a little while to make a point. If slamming doors is a problem in your house; remove them. The lack of privacy often inspires teens to stop acting like drama queens.
Staying out past curfew or hanging out with the wrong crowd can be very concerning. First, consider whether or not the curfew is realistic. Talk to other parents to find out when their kids are expected to be home. Also, talk to your child to see what she thinks is reasonable. Once you have reestablished the boundaries, give it a test drive. If the test fails (allow a 10 minute grace period), then it’s time for one of those nasty consequences such as staying at home for a couple of days.
If your teen is palling around with a toxic group of friends, this will need to be handled with some finesse. This is because kids typically consider their friends an extension of themselves, and if you’re criticizing the friends your teen is going to take it personally.
Think about why the friends are undesirable: if it’s their clothes or funky hair coloring, that’s a pretty harmless fashion statement. They can still be good kids even if their ear gauges are wide enough to drive a car through.
However, if these are troubled kids who you suspect takes drugs and skips school, then it’s time to intervene. Start by talking about your concerns with your teen. If they are not willing to step back on their own, you will need to lower the hammer by banning further contact.
Before you fill out the application for reform school, seek professional help from a mental health professional. Sometimes there may be underlying issues such as anxiety or depression that could seriously affect a teen’s self-esteem and cause them to act out in unpleasant ways. And, as a parent, you will have the support and resources needed to bring stability back into the family unit.