You will often hear people talking about kids becoming teens as a time of conflict and frustration, and a time to be worried about. These types of negative stereotypes of the teenage years, and teens, are not accurate and are not helpful. Thinking about teens like this can actually make things worse than they need to be. Parenting a troubled teen is often stressful, but learning why your troubled teen is behaving like they are, will be a valuable part of helping them and you. In this post, we’ll talk about a few things that will help make life less stressful for troubled teens and their parents.
Remember to be patient. During this time, teens begin to look like adults, they start expecting more freedom, but they are still learning. Often teens will do things that seem stupid to adults, possibly even looking extremely confident while they do them. Teens are transitioning from childhood to adulthood. It is important to show the same patience to our teens as we want people to show us when we are learning. Staying involved with your teen is important, but allowing them to take increasing control of their lives is important also. It is helpful to monitor teens in a respectful manner, teens want to be respected just like adults. Asking your teens about their plans with genuine interest will often result in teens discussing those plans with their parents. If you know what your teen’s plans are, and have concerns, it allows you as parents to discuss the possibilities with them.
Some stress should be expected. Being a teen is not easy. Teens often feel self-conscious, while appearing confident, and are particularly stressed when things are changing (e.g. the family is moving or they are graduating). During these times, teens can be specifically anxious or tense and there may be more bickering. When there is a disagreement, let go of your feelings of frustration. Don’t dwell on disagreements, most teens get over them fairly quickly, as adults we need to be careful to not drag our emotions along behind us.
Try to remember your experience as a teen. Remembering what feelings and situations you were experiencing can help give you a better understanding of what teens are going through. Think about the things your parents did that helped you, and what was not helpful for you. While remembering your experience as a teen can give you insight, avoid comparing your teen with yourself as a teen, or with others. Questions like “Why can’t you be more like…?” are never helpful, and remember that each child is a unique combination of talents.