Raising teenagers is not easy. A lot of parents go through these turbulent times feeling like they’re constantly on the losing side of a battle. What helps a lot of parents in these times is the knowledge that they aren’t alone. Teen behavioral issues are extremely common, and there are a lot of ways that you can begin fighting these behavior problems right in your own home.
Problem 1 – “I hate you!” Whether your teen outright says this or just expresses it through rolling their eyes, it’s extremely common for teens to pass through this stage. Teen boys especially are prone to these periods of time and can be very antagonistic. It’s a very difficult phase for any family, and, as a parent, it is important that you do not do anything to further harm the relationship.
Solution – Establish clear-cut rules in your home and appropriate consequences for violating them. E.g., tell your teen that they are not to ever be openly rude or show disrespect. Do what you can to let small things go, like quiet insolence or eye rolling, and try to show as much support as you can. At their core, teens know that they need you and want to respect you.
Problem 2 – “My life is over!” A line that is particularly common with teen girls, parents can expect their teen to be overly emotional and dramatic. To them, every little thing might seem like a huge deal and they can seem to be a powder keg with a short fuse. When parents respond to these outbursts apathetically or ignore it altogether, they just contribute to the problem.
Solution – Let your teenager have their upset, but be there to listen. By expressing calmness and love in the face of their irrationality, you create a space where your teenager can talk openly and allow you to show them that not everything is a full-blown crisis.
Problem 3 – “But they’re my friends!” A lot of teens end up with a less-than-desirable social circle. When you try to exert your influence as a parent, they will almost always defend these relationships bitterly. In fact, the more a parent pressures them and criticizes, the more defensive and dishonest the teen will become.
Solution – Get involved with their friends and ask your teen about these people with a real eye towards learning about them. Do what you can to avoid judging your teen or their friends. While you may not like or approve of their friends, it is always preferable that they be open with you about their social activities rather than sneaking around and being dishonest. When they feel like you care and are interested, they’ll be more open to hear your opinion down the line.
Problem 4 – “Sorry, what?” You might feel like your teen is never really listening to you. Whether they’re on their phone, deeply involved in some video game, or whichever technological device grabs their attention at the moment, they have a lot of ways to ignore you. When you take these things away from them, it can just make things worse.
Solution – Never forget that you own these devices and pay for the services. This gives you every right to set clear rules about their usage. Putting these rules clearly and firmly in place is necessary and helpful. Establish boundaries like no technology in their rooms, or no phones allowed during family time. You could also tie their usage of these devices to whether or not they are fulfilling their obligations, like chores and grade expectations. On the other side of the same coin, if they are following these rules, you should give them space to freely use these devices.
Problem 5 – “None of my friends have curfews!” A lot of teens argue that you are the only parent who does certain things. Whether it’s checking up on them or setting curfews, teens typically use this as a blanket statement when they really don’t know what goes on in other houses. Breaking these rules you have set is typically an effort to test the limits or exert control.
Solution – Establish clear rules, including curfews, with your teen. Discuss your concerns openly and be willing to negotiate a time that works for both of you. Additionally, create consequences for when these rules get broken and, above all, follow through with these consequences!
If these solutions don’t work, your teen might be going through something more serious than you can deal with at home, as a parent. If you think your teen might need more structured help, don’t hesitate to get help. From therapeutic boarding schools to rehabs, there is help out there!