Susan L Crum, Ph.D. 

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Tips for Dealing with Trying Teens

Posted by cfln4646 on November 14, 2013 at 9:25 AM

Tips for dealing with Trying Teens

Sometimes we look at our teenagers and wonder where that child went, the one who loved, adored and obeyed us. Their smart remarks, failure to do the things we believe are important combined with the fact that the suddenly know everything and we nothing, can make parenting a teen challenging to say the least. So, here are some tips to help you cope with this challenge.

Begin by asking what they want. Then, try to negotiate a win/win solution. For instance, your sixteen year old wants a later curfew than you feel comfortable with, you might negotiate a “call-in time” at your preferred curfew time and add thirty to sixty minutes. Or, you might agree to a later curfew only for special events. This lets your teen feel listen to and valued, and lets you worry less. The important factor is to keep the lines of communication open. This means listening more than you talk. Listen to find out what is important to your teen. Listen to find out who the respect and who is influencing them. Listen to understand their feelings. Listen to show respect for them.

If you have raised your teen well, they have a good sense of right and wrong. So, when setting ground rules, you might ask them to write down what they feel is reasonable. You may be surprised to find you are very comfortable with what they develop. If not, you can begin the process of negotiation to move the limits in a direction your feel are more acceptable. Make certain, however, that you are setting limits based upon helping your teen develop important values and upon protecting their safety; not simply based upon what your parents did or the fact that you are the one in control.

A crucial step is to model the behavior you want. If you want your child to attend church regularly, do so yourself. If you want your child to be alcohol free, choose non alcoholic drinks yourself. If you want your teen to avoid smoking, use alternative methods of self-calming yourself. If you want your child to be kind, next time you see a homeless person, stop buy them a meal. If you want them to listen to you, listen to them. If you want your teen to be community minded, find a volunteer opportunity to do with them. If you want them to show respect and let you know where they are, show them the same courtesy when you are out or running late.

A difficult part in this process is letting go of your expectations and dreams. Your teenager is a separate person with his or her own expectations and dreams. Perhaps you always planned for your teen to go to an Ivory league college, but, they just want a certificate to be a nail technician. If you have concerns, you may share them to help your teen make an informed decision. But, let them invest in their own dreams, they need to learn to make their own way in the world.

When your teen is doing less than you wanted or expected, suspend your judgment. Let them make mistakes. Permit them to be different from you. Don’t make your love conditional on good behavior. When consequences are appropriate, provide them. But, make certain they are related to the misbehavior. For example, if you teen refuses to take out the garbage, taking the iphone away is not a natural consequence. Putting the garbage pails in your teens room so they are the one who has to deal with the natural consequences of their lack of responsibility is. On the other hand, if your teen is texting when they should be studying, timing the iphone out for a week would be appropriate.

Give your teen responsibility. This should not be a chore than only benefits themselves such as doing their laundry. Rather it should be something for which the entire family depends upon them; perhaps cooking dinner every Friday night, or, planning and obtaining all the supplies for a family and friends night.

In the midst of all the cold shoulders, smart remarks and misbehaviors, remember to love your teen. Show them , tell them, spend time with them. Let them know they can be as obstinate as they like, you will still love them. Focus on love, respect and appreciation. Empower your teen to explore all they can be. Discipline, that is teach your child what is important, with love and respect.

Presented as community service,

 

Susan L. Crum, Ph.D.

Licensed Psychologist

866-448-1965

 

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