Teenagers are a special group of human beings who are self-contradictory in many aspects. They are both very self-confident sometimes but can often get very insecure; they are desperate to be individualistic yet they try hard to fit in with their peers.
They are also convinced they know everything even though they lack experience. And we all know about their desire to defy authority and to test their limits.
As a parent, you have probably noticed at least some of these characteristics in your teenage child. If you have a difficult teenager, then a few parenting tips could help you stir them in the right direction.
1. Don’t give them your power
Difficult teenagers love looking for your buttons they can push – they enjoy when they succeed in making you lose your nerve because they then feel they have power over you.
The most important rule is to remain calm and not react to provocations. Take a deep breath when you feel you are on the edge and count to ten – you will probably regain your cool by them and find a better way to react to your teenage kid’s behaviour.
2. Connect with your child
Although they are rude, dismissive, and sometimes even aggressive towards you, teenagers still crave their parents’ love and acceptance. So, it’s best you try to create a positive face-to-face connection to calm your child. The best way to do it is to insist you have meals together with no distractions and to have a chat over a cup of coffee.
Even if they refuse, it’s important to make yourself available and interested in them. At one point, try to find some common ground with them – maybe their haircut or style is not something that you like or approve but then don’t push it. Try to find a topic you both enjoy so that you can simply chat. At some point, your child may feel comfortable enough to talk about other topics as well.
3. Addiction issues
One of the parents’ biggest fears is that their teenage kid will start smoking, do drugs, or abuse alcohol. Unfortunately, most teenagers will smoke a cigarette at some point and try alcohol while some of them will try marijuana. That’s why it’s crucial you have an open talk with them about it before they even start considering it.
However, in many countries, especially Western ones, kids are trying cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs at a much younger age than before. If you notice that your child is hanging out with kids who you are suspecting of alcohol or drug abuse, you need to talk about it with your kids. If they refuse to talk and continue acting weird, then you can consider testing them for drugs. There are reliable test kits and other developed countries so that parents can identify if their child has a substance abuse issue. In some cases, substance abuse is accompanied by problems at school a swell but that doesn’t always have to be the case.
4. Discipline tips
Firstly, it’s important to have clear family rules about behaviour and the way you communicate that you stick to. It would be good if you involve your child in the discussion on the rules.
Secondly, never talk about your child’s personality when you are angry – always comment and critique their behaviour specifically. It’s one thing to say “You’re rude” to your child, and another to say “It hurts me when you talk like that to me”.
Thirdly, there should be consequences for your child’s bad behaviour but not for every single thing. Set consequences for specific behaviours, for example, name-calling or rudeness.
5. Use humour
Not every situation requires your firm attitude and punishment. In mild situations when your teenager is acting out, the best thing you can do is smile instead of frown and make a joke. Phrases like “There she-he goes again” and then continuing with whatever you’re doing.
In other situations, show empathy for their situation and really try to see the issue from their point of view. Even if it’s very difficult to understand them sometimes, the sole attempt will create progress in your relationship.
Teenagers require a lot of patience and persistence. You need to rise above if you want to improve your relationship – it may take months but your patience will pay off.