As a parent, there is only one thing that you probably want to happen, and that is to watch your child succeed in every step of the way. No mother wants to see her son or daughter end up with a dark future. It is why all parents do their best to ensure that the child is in the right direction.
Developing closer and strong ties with your teenager is quite challenging. The age gap alone is a clear indication of how your generation differs from the youth of today. Do not be surprised to find out that the things you loathe are the exact things they love.
Living as a teenager is hard. School becomes stressful and there is pressure put on you to achieve well. Friends may put pressure on you to be “cool”, follow their lead and you may even get bullied. On top of that, you are expected to learn how to drive, get your first boyfriend or girlfriend, get your first job, keep your parents happy and at the same time somehow find yourself and the person you are meant to be. Not only this, but your brain has decided to make serious renovations during this time while pumping your body full of hormones causing who knows what!
What a tumultuous and stressful time. When looking at things this way, it becomes quite clear why teenagers can be moody. Sometimes with all these responsibilities, expectations and changes your teen can become stressed and foster negative energy. It is important to keep these stress levels at bay. However, this can also go in the opposite direction, and a Betterhelp write-up has given valuable insight on this. Have you ever had your teen complain they are bored only to be met with anger when you suggest an activity?
This is a very familiar concept to parents of teens and is not so much a reflection of the teen’s level of boredom, but more a reflection of the nature of adolescent development in itself. When stating they are bored, this is generally more a demonstration of their feeling of being “lost”. Adolescence is a time where people find themselves, but this is a difficult process and involves letting go of their “child self”. At the same time though, they haven’t quite worked out who their “adult self” is yet and this can make this a confusing and isolating time. This is why channeling your teen’s energy positively is so important.
So how can you do this?
Keep your cool – When your teen is being negative or difficult, it is important to remember that you are the adult. This means that you have the most advanced emotional regulation skills and it is up to you to keep a cool head. Whether this means taking a moment away to catch your breath, venting to you partner quietly about it later or even sneaking that extra piece of chocolate out of the fridge to have the energy to face your teen, it doesn’t matter. The most important thing is that you are able to approach your teen in a non-judgmental and caring, yet firm way.
Rephrase their negatives into positives – Chances are you’ve been listening to your teen’s conversations around the home and noticed that they can be pretty negative. “I suck at math”, “nobody likes me” or “he’ll never notice me” are all likely very similar to some things your teen has said. This is simply a reflection of their stress levels at the time. They are trying to reject their existing ‘child self’ and build a whole new person while all these other things are going on and this is hard! It is your job though to try and foster positive thinking opposed to negative and self-critical thinking. Lecturing them on this is unlikely to help because the last thing they need when they are feeling down on themselves is to be criticized for something else. A simple rephrasing of their words though can help. Such as replying to “I suck at math” with “I can see you are struggling with math, it’s a hard subject, would you like to try and work on it together?” This gets rid of their negative absolute thought (that they suck at math in general) and replaces it with a less powerful thought suggesting that they could improve with time. It also shows that you are willing to help them through this process.
Work to their unique strengths – Find out what your teen is good at and foster it. Chances are if they are good at it, they will enjoy it. This will not only give them a sense of self and something to keep them productive, it will also give them a sense of accomplishment. This means finding what suits them personally, be it sport, music, drama or cooking; not simply pushing them into what you think they should do.
Encourage them – This can never be overdone. At any time in their lives, people always respond well to praise. This goes for teens. If they do something well praise them. It can sometimes feel difficult finding things to praise as teens do tend to rebel during this period, but continuing to look for and praise good behavior will strengthen not only your relationship but also your teen’s self-worth.
The teenage years are a pivotal time between childhood and adulthood. Significant physical, mental and emotional growth all occur at this time. It is a tumultuous and stressful time for both parent and child.
Planning for the future with an adolescent can be extremely difficult in itself. This is a time where they are trying to reject their child self and are working towards finding their adult self. It can be confusing for them, lead them to lash out and cause many sleepless nights. Betterhelp, a company connecting a growing audience of people to an online therapist, has some useful tips in such cases.
Looking to the future with an adolescent who is not quite as well-adjusted as their peers is far more difficult, but also just as important. For most parents, choosing the right university or trade college for their teens are the biggest concerns when planning their future. However, sadly for some parents, the reality is much more sobering. Instead of university choices, some parents are planning on ways to keep their non-compliant, defiant teenager out of jail and make sure they are safe.
If you as a parent fall into this category, try not to give up. There are some things you can do when working with your teen that might help with this process.
Manage your own expectations
First, you need to manage your own expectations. If your teenager is displaying very challenging behaviour and has a history of defiance and even law breaking behaviours, it is unfair to compare them with their peers who are A-grade students. This is not to say that your child is anything less than these students. But right now, their needs and strengths are very different to their peers for whatever reason. Once you can recognise this, then you can shift your perspective from likely unachievable or unsuitable goals and expectations to those that are a better fit for your teen.
Work out their needs
No one engages in any behaviour without a reason. If your teen is engaging in troubling behaviour, then this behavior is performed to likely meet a need. For example, they may be wagging school because they feel the need to be accomplished and have been struggling with their school work. Instead of seeking help (positive behaviour), they have chosen to not attend school so they don’t have to face their school work and feel unaccomplished. In this step, look at your teen’s current and future needs. Sit down with your teen and work out what they need to be able to do/have to lead a safe and stable life after school if you are not there.
You can talk to them about finding a way to earn an income. They don’t have to be a doctor so simply holding down steady work is an achievement. Make them understand that it is important to have somewhere to live in and have positive influences in their lives. It can also be helpful to have something they are passionate about (a hobby or interest).
Replace the negative behaviour with a positive one
Once you know what their needs are (both present and those for the future), work to meet those needs with positive behaviours. This may appear to be simple, but can be one of the hardest steps. For example– with our teen above who is wagging school– can this work by replacing their negative behaviour with a positive one that could be as simple as telling them to go back to school, right? Wrong, this doesn’t meet their need to feel accomplished as they will still be struggling with their school work. So, what is our other option?
Work to their strengths
In the example above, it would be better to offer the teen that if they return to school, they can study the subjects they want to. This may mean that they don’t study exactly what you want them to, but at least they are studying! If this is out of your teen’s scope, perhaps look for other areas where they can feel accomplished.
Can they learn a trade? Or can they start a part-time job or hobby? Be careful not to try and force your child in a certain direction. This will be unlikely to work and will only make your teen less open to discussing plans with you. It is important to find something they can replace negative behaviours with.
Perhaps you have an adrenaline junkie teen who has been involved in joy riding cars. Can you channel this into a productive interest through studying mechanics? As you can see, this step requires you to really take the time to get to know your teen, their interests and what makes them tick. By taking this time, not only are you working towards more positive behaviour, but you are also giving them more tools to take into the adult world.
Most importantly, make sure that you praise your teen on the changes they are making. They should receive a shout out from you just for simply sitting down and having a conversation about their future. This is mainly because for some teens, this is a huge step.
Praising them doesn’t mean you need to buy them anything. You just simply need to let them know you have recognised the effort they have put in. For example, after having a conversation about their future, you could say, ”I’m proud of you for talking about this with me. It is very mature of you to be thinking of your future”. With praise, these changes are more likely to stick.
With praise, these changes are more likely to stick. Sometimes, teens who act defiant can continue to do so because they feel that no one expects otherwise from them. By praising them, you’re showing them that you haven’t given up yet. You can see that there is more to than just their poor behaviour.
Parenting an adolescent can feel as though you have journeyed back into the terrible twos. Yelling, screaming, hair pulling and all the tantrums, and disobedience that comes with a toddler…only with higher stakes this time. It can feel as though you are endlessly arguing or being shut out by your teen only to receive no thanks when things are going well. Sometimes a civil conversation is all you can hope for. It’s easy for this to all build up and I can guarantee there have been times you have lost your cool with your adolescent child. We all know this doesn’t help and I’m sure that afterward, you felt horrible. An article here has some insights in such cases. There are some things you can do as a parent, to help you manage your cool at times like these.
Why is it so important to remain calm?
As the parent, keeping your cool when dealing with an emotional teenager is imperative, no matter how difficult this is. The most obvious reason for this is that nothing is ever really solved through aggression and lashing out emotionally. However, there is also a deeper reason for remaining calm. Our sole purpose as a parent is to teach our child about life and how to behave. One of the main ways we are able to do this is through modeling appropriate behavior. If we can model appropriate emotional regulation then this can be a learning opportunity for our child and may assist them to learn to manage their own emotions better.
One of the most simple and effective ways to manage our own emotions is to take a break. Notice when the situation is becoming stressful or when your own anger or anxiety is increasing and take a minute to collect yourself. This only needs to be a very short break, enough time to stop, take a breath, try and observe what is going on from a 3rd person point of view and then proceed. This allows you to react logically opposed to emotionally which will eventually provide a better outcome. It also keeps you in control and your teen will be able to see firsthand how you noticed your emotions and managed them like a pro.
It’s not you
Above all, know that whatever is going on with your teen, and whatever they say, don’t take it personally. Adolescents in their fits of rage can do and say some horrible things. This doesn’t mean that they truly hate you and doesn’t mean that they are horrible. It simply means that they are really struggling right now and don’t know how else to express themselves. Taking these things to heart will only add more stress to your plate. Let your teen know that what they have said has hurt you (“ouch”) and simply walk away and don’t engage. Chances are they will learn from that and feel remorse later. This means they are less likely to say such things in the future.
Drain your glass
This is another way that you can ensure you are able to keep your cool with your adolescent child. No, by draining your glass I don’t mean have a stiff drink. It simply means taking the time to reset and recharge when you have the chance. Think of your emotions as water and your patience or “cool” as the glass. You can only put so much emotion or stress in a glass before it eventually overflows, and this is what happens when you lose your cool at your adolescent. Life even without kids can be stressful so there are likely other things filling your glass also like work stress, possible relationship stress and even just the stress of daily tasks you need to complete. With your glass full with stress, it leaves little room to deal with your teen at the end of the day. Take the time when you can to reset and recharge, whether this means having a chat with a friend, reading a book, listening to your favorite song or even going for a jog; whatever works for you. The important thing is to just allow time for things that relax you. Sometimes it can be difficult not to feel guilty for taking this time as a parent, but it will also benefit your teen immensely and strengthen your relationship.
The rebellious teenager, as parents this is what we all dread. All teens rebel to some extent but some much more than others. Some teens seem set on destruction, refusing to follow the most simple and logical of rules, ignoring the advice of others, not paying attention or going to school and even engaging in risky behavior.
Does this sound familiar?
If so, I don’t blame you if you are pulling your own hair out. Having a teen child can be challenging in itself but having a particularly rebellious teen child is even worse. You’ve read up on how to set rules and boundaries with your teen and even tried to enforce these but it seems as though they just don’t even want to negotiate with you. It feels as though they have become a chaotic force and they don’t seem to care who gets hurt in the process. It feels like you are constantly fighting and not progressing. When you just can’t get through to them it can be difficult to know what to do next. They would even at times, through crisis, prefer to chat anonymously in depression groups instead of talking to you, thinking of it as a better route; more info here: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/depression/can-a-depression-chat-room-be-helpful/.
Below are some tips on how to figure out what might be behind this behavior and ways that you might be able to tackle it and get your lovely teen back to themselves.
Hang in there…
When teens decide to rebel severely it is not pretty. A badly rebellious teen may become involved with drinking, drugs, theft, aggression, and even in some cases, gang behavior. I don’t say these things to scare people, as this is not the typical teen. However, this behavior can occur and these days, sadly, it seems to be happening more and more often in teens. When it gets to this stage it can be really difficult not to give up. How can you possibly help your teen when they are aggressive towards you? Or when they are involved in sourcing and selling drugs? Although you wouldn’t be the first parent to throw the towel in, it is important not to give up. It may feel over your head at the moment, but there is always something you can do and no matter how little that thing is, there is a possibility it will have a positive impact in your teenager’s life. After all, we all know that even though they constantly are pushing us away, often, the severe rebellious behavior is a sign that they do want our help but are too scared to admit it (even to themselves).
Try and work out what is behind the behavior:
Have there been any changes in your teen’s life lately? Has their relationship broken down, or is there lots of conflict in the family? Try talking to them and working out what might be behind this behavior. Approach this in a non-judgmental and caring manner opposed to using it as a chance to lecture them on their behavior. Be aware that if your teen is severely rebelling they may not open up to you here, but at the very least it is just another chance to show them that you do care and are worried.
Develop a thick skin
During times like this, teens can say and do some very hurtful things. Try and remember that this is not truly your teen, but simply the detour they are taking at the moment. Try not to take things personally and focus purely on moving forward. Ensure that you have a good support network of friends and family around you and lean on them when required. Know and accept that there is no way you can completely control your teenager’s behavior and that this is not your fault. All you can do is continue to support them and give them the tools for life. It is up to them what they choose to do with these.
Get further support
If your teen is severely rebelling and engaging in some very concerning and dangerous behavior it is time to call in the big guns. It can be very, very difficult to admit but sadly there can become situations where it is dangerous for the family for your teen to remain in the house. It may be better for them to be in a setting that can provide a higher level of supervision. If you feel it may have gotten to this point, contact your local GP and counseling services for advice on where to from here. Remember, that just because your teen is not in the home, does not mean you can’t have a relationship with them. It is important that no matter how hard things get, they know that you are still there and will support them. Hopefully, in knowing this, they will be able to return and rekindle your relationship after they receive the assistance they require.
Raising a child is no easy task and there are certainly very challenging times during this process, possibly none more challenging than adolescence. When your teen wants to date is a particularly daunting time for parents. The repercussions that come from developing romantic relationships such as meeting strangers whether in person or online (which should be taken seriously), beginning to engage in sexual activities, possible broken hearts and even bullying related to the relationship (or breakdown of one) are what can make teen dating terrifying for parents. On top of this, it is also one of the most controversial stages of parenting with very little consensus on the right way to go about it.
So how do you navigate the rough waters of teen dating?
Teenagers are known to be particularly moody. As your teen tests the boundaries (and your patience) the teenage years are rife with arguments, yelling, tears, tantrums, and many afternoons that your teen spends moping around the house. Naturally, children begin to pull away from their parents during this time and may spend much more time alone than they have ever before. With every teen being different, it can be difficult to tell what is a normal level of moodiness and what is not. Generally, it is normal for teens to experience moodiness and withdraw from others to some extent, but it is also important to keep an eye on this behavior to ensure they are not experiencing something more sinister than simply changes in hormones such as depression. Indeed, sometimes it may be a fleeting empty feeling or something deeper as indicated in this interesting article: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/general/i-feel-empty-when-a-lack-of-meaning-is-something-more-serious/
Could your teenager be experiencing depression?
First, what is depression?
Most people are aware that depression involves feeling down or sad. However, it is much more than this and can significantly impact someone’s life. Depression involves far more sad days than happy ones. It can rob someone of their joy, motivation, concentration, desire to be around others, and can even lead people to self-harm and suicide. Naturally, this makes it a very serious mental health concern and something that requires support. The symptoms of depression can include:
Feeling down, moody, irritable or even “numb” (void of all strong emotions).
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
Increased or decreased appetite.
Increased or decreased sleep.
Withdrawal from others.
Persistent negative thoughts, including thoughts of suicide.
Difficulty making decisions and concentrating.
How can this present in teenagers?
As we mentioned earlier because the teenage years are a time where your teen naturally begins to gain independence and pull away from their parents, as well as a time where they go through some moodiness it can be difficult to notice symptoms of depression in teenagers in their early stages. However, there are some warning signs you can look out for. These include:
Acting out at home or school out of character.
Pulling away from not only their parents but their friends as well.
Decreased interest in social activities or things they normally enjoy.
Disrupted sleep patterns.
Low motivation and moodiness out of character for them.
Significant changes in appetite.
Being overly critical of themselves.
Preoccupation with death and dying.
Self-harm or threats/talking of suicide.
Although each of these signs is important to know, the last two symptoms should not be ignored. Threats of suicide and self-harming behaviors should always be taken seriously and require support from a professional. If you feel your teen may be at risk of harming themselves, please contact your GP for information on further professional support.
First, talk to them about it. Start with letting them know that you care about them and are worried. Outline what you have noticed they are doing differently and if you are aware of some of the pressures they are experiencing (such as school stress) let them know that you can understand why it might be getting them down. Offer to work through it together and encourage them to seek support (with your help). Taking a non-judgmental approach, reminding them you care and showing them you are willing to support them through this will all make them more likely to be receptive to your help.
Seek support from your local GP or counselor. It can be helpful to attend the first session with a counselor together to help highlight to the counselor your concerns and what you have noticed and to assist your teen in communicating this as breaking this initial barrier can be difficult to do alone. Then negotiate with your teen and the counselor on how they would like to proceed from there. Often teenagers will prefer the independence of attending sessions themselves after a few times, but sometimes they will prefer your presence. The most important thing is that your teen feels comfortable to talk with the counselor.
Try to ensure your teen is getting appropriate sleep and eating properly. Eating unhealthy food can have a negative impact on mood and we all know what a lack of sleep does for our tempers…
Encourage your teen to get active. Exercise releases endorphins to lift mood and has been proven to help reduce depressive symptoms.
Encourage your teen to spend time with their friends and invest time in their hobbies.
Give them time. Obviously, they are not going to recover from depression overnight and there will be ups and downs and losing your patience with them will not help. Continue to show them (in whatever way works for them) that you love them and try and keep communication lines open between the two of you. Ask them to let you know if things get worse and if they don’t feel comfortable talking with you, direct them to someone they do such as the counselor, a GP or close family friend.
My son was recently diagnosed with ASPD. Is my son going insane?
Whenever our children undergo some serious problems like this mother who shared her worries about her son’s recent condition, the struggle to accept and continue with life is sometimes unbearable. First of all, this kind of reaction is a normal response. Shock and disbelief are part of our initial reaction to something that’s hard to accept. We tend to question ourselves why this can be happening to us. The best thing to equip yourself with enough knowledge and understanding of the present situation and get hold of the reins in order to show support to your child.
When a child steps into teenage years, parents are more alarmed and fearful of the things that will happen to them. It seems that teenagers, violence, and forming disastrous relationships with others are all being dreaded by everyone. How come? Can we protect our children from this occurrence?