For parents to handle teenagers is a hair raising and exasperating task! Your most ill behaved children must understand that you are the one in control and you must calmly yet consistently make them realize that you will not tolerate nasty behaviour. Here are some tried and tested tips for you to respond to your defiant teenagers and yet maintain a peaceful atmosphere at home. I hope they are useful to you. Happy reading!
Never assume the reason behind
a teen’s bad behaviour
Your child’s defiant behaviour may actually be some real life problem he/she is facing in school or at play. Don’t ever guess or assume that your child is acting out based on what you see. If your child is belligerent towards you when he/she returns from school, it might not always be that he/she is facing a problem in understanding Science or Algebra. It might just be that he/she is unable to make friends and so feels like an outcast. But that cannot be used as an excuse for bad behaviour. When he/she is in the comfort of his/her own home it is then that he/she can let his/her guard down and target a sibling or his/her parents.
Try tracking the behaviour of your child for a short period of time. If you notice a pattern that he is unloading his anger everyday when he /she comes home from school , once he/ she calms down try to speak to him/her with words such as, ‘Hey, I have recently noticed you are coming back from school, obviously upset at something and then venting your anger on Dad and me. That’s not fair! Can we help in some way? What’s up?’ He/she may completely ignore you but the message is sent out that you care about him/her and want to help.
Connect with your teen as often as
possible during a regular day
This tip may sound very clichéd – children want to know how/where do they rate in our busy lives. We all get so busy in our working life, house work, trying to juggle multiple tasks at one go, etc that when it comes to family time with our children, we tend to neglect it. This leads to a sigh or raised eyebrow or even a scorn whenever we try to engage them in a conversation. Many a time children misbehave just to get attention when they feel that they are being ignored. But it is important to keep trying so that they feel that you are making a heartfelt effort. By doing so you are sending out the important message – you are important to me!
Involve your kids
in problem solving
My son had been going through a difficult phase in his Grade XII. He was becoming negative about almost everything that involved his studies. He was losing interest and using all sorts of excuses not to show any interest in his studies. His grades were slowly sliding down. Not only was he gloomy and felt hopeless he had developed a quick temper and nearly everything we asked him would result in a verbal attack from him.
We tried to analyse his problems and engage him in household activities. Although this helped to a certain extent, there was no definite improvement in his behaviour. It was then that we decided not to try to find out his problems instead try to find some solutions to the negative attitude that he had developed. We asked him how he could better control his behaviour and develop a positive outlook towards his studies because his behaviour was not only draining us but him as well.
He thought over it for a few days and came up with a solution that he would work with a tutor twice a week but we should stop micromanaging his school work for him. He did not do miraculously well, but after we backed off and gave him his breathing space he managed to considerably improve his performance which improved his attitude towards many other things and he seemed genuinely happier with life as a whole. He is in college now and studying electronic music production and doing great!
Be compassionate, not forceful
No one likes to be told what to do and yet research will show that all that a parent does the whole day is give orders and that too in a negative tone. Be compassionate, not forceful!
Some ways in which you can confront bad behaviour with compassion rather than force arel Stop, drop (everything else) and take a deep breath.
- Reinforce your expectations of expected standard of respect in the family.
- Give your child time to correct him/herself before you reopen communication.
- Stay compassionate – Say something like, ‘Oh! That was really rude. I never speak to you in that tone dear’. And see the magic! Consistently repeat such words to your wonderful teenager.
- Listen to your child patiently – remain calm and listen. You need to give your teenager the chance to speak out all those pent up feelings that have caused him/ her discomfort and has thus become the reason for his/her anger.
Reinforce compliant behaviour
One of the things which has always worked is ‘build on the positive’ – and do so as frequently as deserved. The more positive attention a teenager gets the less negative attention he/she will ask for by being rude or defiant. Be positive and encourage good behaviour by always highlighting positive actions and not negative ones. So in other words, get into the habit of consistently catching your child doing something good! Every effort made by your teen to be good to a sibling or the elderly at home should be appreciated with ‘Hey, I saw how you helped Grandma this morning. You were so compassionate towards her’, or ‘I appreciate the way you took your younger sister to the movies with you. She’s lucky to have you as her brother’.
Lastly, showing unconditional love whenever your child has done something wrong heals his /her feelings and enhances his/her self-esteem! Loving attention, warmth and care are critical for your teen’s development and self-esteem. No parent can provide this every minute of every day, but over time you can build a strong and positive relationship. Happy TWEEN Parenting!Aditi Sharma
Aditi Sharma, a trained teacher and a Post-Graduate in Computer Applications and Educational Administration with a Certificate in Guidance and Counseling joined the City Montessori School Lucknow, as a Kindergarten Teacher in 1991. After occupying a series of administrative positions in the City Montessori Schools chain, she was elevated to the post of Principal in the Asharfabad Campus in September, 2014. She has had vast exposure to international teaching practices as she has led a number of school delegations to Hong Kong, North Korea, Indonesia, etc.