Teenagers are strange and fascinating creatures. One moment they’re all sweetness and light and the next they turn into hormone-fueled beasts that can test the patience of even the most stoic of parents. No one ever said it would be easy, but while every teen and every family are unique, no one ever said it would be this hard either. When parenting teenagers, help may sometimes be needed whether it is the advice of a friend or a professional.
If Parenting Teenagers Has You Feeling Overwhelmed, Remember There Is Help
Science has a few solid explanations for the otherwise unexplainable behavior of the modern teen. The decision-making portions of their brains are not yet fully developed and add hormones to this mix and you have a child who is trying to act like an adult but truly lacks the capability to do so.
We can expect certain respectful behavior from our teens to help maintain harmony in the family, but without clear direction and firm rules teens are more likely than not to lose sight of their goals and find themselves in situations they’re not prepared for.
If you’re the parent of a teen and feel like you’re at the end of your rope, some of these tips could help save your sanity and help your teen adjust their behavior accordingly.
Listen to Your Teen
Teens have a lot to say but many feel as if no one hears them. And while it’s true that getting your teen to open up about their feelings can be like pulling teeth, deep down inside your teen wants your acknowledgment and wants you to hear them.
Many parents find that pushing the issue only causes the teen to shut down. Try to have a neutral conversation in a neutral environment, such as a car ride. Don’t ask pointed questions and don’t accuse. Keep the conversation light and let them set the tone. Then you can use phrases such as “how did that make you feel?” and “what do you think could have been different about the situation?” These types of questions don’t place blame and may help your child tell you what’s bothering them and how you can help.
Engaging on an everyday or at least consistent basis will help your teen know you care and that you want to hear what they have to say.
Set Clear Expectations
Throughout anyone’s life there will be expectations and consequences. This includes both parents and teens. Dad’s boss expects him to be on time for work and there are consequences if he doesn’t do that. The same is true for your teen. If you expect your teen to perform a certain household task or be home by a certain time and they fail to do so, there will and must be consequences.
Following through with a punishment is never easy, whether you’re a manager or a parent — and you may feel like both — but failure to follow through gives your teen the impression that you don’t mean what you say. Not only does this lead to the belief that they can misbehave and avoid consequences but it also shows them they can’t trust you to do what you say you will. If they can’t expect that from you how can you expect it from them?
Consequences and follow through are two important lessons that teens need to learn on a regular basis starting with the small things so that the big things don’t come as a shock.
When Outside Help Is Needed Parenting Teenagers
In even the best homes, where parents feel they’ve done everything right, there can still be a time when a teen’s behavior is so disruptive that the parents feel they need help handling their teen. Sometimes it might even be best for the teen to be removed from the home to get the care they need. Of course a professional who has extensive experience with teens and behavioral issues can advise you on this decision, but in some cases it’s in the best interest of the child and the family to create some distance and allow everyone time to heal.
Schools for troubled teens exist across the United States but, again, a professional is your best resource when deciding which school is best for your child. Some schools focus more on the medical aspect of teen defiance and others take a more holistic approach. Regardless, you want your child to be in a safe space with an educated and compassionate staff that will help them on the road to recovery and reclaiming their self-worth so they can then be integrated back into the family.
Remaining sane and raising a teen can feel like the mother of all problems but even for those families with seemingly insurmountable problems parenting teenagers, help is available. You just need to be consistent in communicating with your teen, setting boundaries, and knowing when to ask for help. Again, no one said parenting teenagers would be easy, but it is a stage they will grow out of be better for if you consistently keep doing your best and getting help when needed. Is parenting teenagers tougher than you thought it would be? Where do you turn for help?