Are you shocked your teenage child talks back at you? You hear your teenage son curse under his breath when you reprimand him for leaving his room dirty. From a distance you see them and their friends talking excitedly but when you come around they stop talking, act guardedly and even take their leave.
They grudgingly take part in family time only when you insist. Otherwise, they rather spend long periods in their rooms. The camaraderie you both once shared is disappearing as you see them pull away from you.
You remember it like yesterday when they were all cuddly and never wanted to be apart from you. Did I hear you ask, ‘Where did my baby go?’ Your baby is right there, though they aren’t that little girl or boy any longer; not that youngster who talked non-stop to you about everything. But now they don’t have anything to say and when prompted, may drop a one-line response.
When you prod them at best you may get, “I’m okay”. Don’t be confused because they are; with all the emotions raging through their body. They are just passing through a phase. Well, welcome to the world of teenagers.
This period is for you to assess your parenting style.
Take the change in attitude as a time your lovely child tries to understand the changes they experience. No matter how rude and withdrawn they’ve become they need you but with a change. Avoid reacting to their rebellion even when it seems like an effrontery to your authority. Know that they are not infants or tweens so you should change to accommodate their change. You have to:
1. Become their friend while still the parent. Be the first person they run to and confide in without being judged. The friend they can easily talk and unburden themselves to. Be available for them. Guide them. Expect resistance when you tell them about your expectations of them. You’re older and can predict where their disobedience could lead. In all keep the humor up.
2. Build trust. If you’re worried about their behaviors and attitudes say so upfront. Encourage them to say it as it is, and they’d be quite frank. So don’t go snooping on them. If they’re out and you needed one of their items, that’s different. Not that you’d wait until you’re home alone then go rummaging through their things. They’d be hurt when they find out. They may become more secretive around you and ensure their diaries, phones, laptops and tablets are always with them, if not pass worded.
3. Give them more responsibilities. Adolescents are ripe for more roles. Responsibilities help endear you to them, make them realize you trust them and believe in their capability to carry out additional tasks. If the lawn is overgrown rather than contract it out, give your son the duty and pay him for the job. You thereby teach him the value of work and money.
4. Give feedback on behaviors. Seek opportunities to always praise their good deeds. Be excited when they behave well. Whenever your child does a good deed, reward them for it. It helps encourage them to do more. It helps them build social skills. Remember adolescence is an awkward stage. Discipline them when they misbehave. Do so privately, they want to be respected.
5. Make yourself reachable. Your teenage child needs you, please be there for them. If you’re busy whenever they want to talk, schedule time for discussions. Encourage them to speak and they would share their challenges and fears with you. It helps them become confident, to open up. Give advice but assure them they’ve got your support in the choices they make. Don’t come from a place of ‘I know it all’ just because you’re the parent. This breaks down communication. They’d take it that you’re so yesterday; that you’re not in touch with current trends.
6. Give them a listening ear. Be interested in what they say. They have different views on issues so don’t judge them on their choices. Adolescents are having it tough with peers who can be mean. They’re confused about what is going on with them. They desire to be heard. They seek attention and acceptance. They believe they can do adult things because of their changing physique. Be firm and clear when you talk with them. Explain the risk of engaging in bad habits.
7. Don’t impose your choices on them. Let them make their own career choices. Give them the resources to enable them to make the most informed decision and guide them on their choice. Help them understand their preferences. If they want to be handymen and you have the resources to see them through tertiary education just discuss with them. Don’ force academic studies on them when they excel in vocational education.
8. Be calm even when their attitude irritates you. It’s a stressed environment already when dealing with teenage rebellion. But you must not lose your cool. Keep your irritation under check even when they give you attitude. Be firm and clear when you give instructions, don’t give in to annoyance when they mutter under their breaths.
9. Be the role model. Children are always watching their parents. Don’t say one thing and do another. What they may forgive in others, they may not forgivein you.They copy your behaviour and make it their identity. If they see you scream at the delivery man for coming late they would do the same. If you want them to be good you just have to show them how they can good by being good yourself. They are transitioning into being adults so guide them well.
10. Become friends with their friends’ parents. It is your duty to know who your child is hanging out with. The company children keep affects their behaviour. Hold conversations with their friends. Know the background of your children’s friends. Make contact and keep acquaintance with their friends’ parents. This helps understand your child without being intrusive and parents can watch out for one another’s other children.