Quite frequently I will have parents contact me asking me to “fix “their teenage daughter They will then proceed to share with me why they want me to “fix” in their child. She never listens, she is spoiled, she is acting out, she is refusing to do her homework, she is brat, she is a liar, she is ungrateful and inconsiderate etc.
I attempt to explain to parents that while I empathize with their frustrations, labeling their child with negative connotations, screaming at them and sometimes trying to control their with behavior with physical actions can all to often lead to more acting out. At some point in their lives, all teenagers will act out, because research shows that they are biologically wired to do so. However, this is not to say that the teenager has free rein to say and do what she pleases. While teens must learn to take responsibility and accountability for their behavior, parents must also learn to take accountability for their reactions and behavior. What once worked when they were little is no longer working, yet parents all to often get stuck in a rut and refuse to change even when things are escalating.
So here are some tips to get your relationship back on the right track.
- STOP SHOUTING. I know, I know thats the only way she will listen to me. But ask yourself if that is true? What happens when you start shouting? Does she shout back? Does it escalate? Or does she shut down? If you truly want a teen to listen, lower your voice. There really is no reason to shout other than it is a sign that you are losing control of the situation.
- You want to be respected, then teach respect. Respect is not earned by bullying, demanding, shouting, hitting, calling names etc. How does it feel when your teen calls you names and shouts at you? No one is going to win. it becomes a battle of the egos.
- Pay attention to your body. Teenagers have a knack of finding your insecurities, so pay attention to your body. If you notice that your heartbeat is increasing, gritting your teeth, sweaty palms. increased breathing etc, this is usually a sign that you have been activated. Take a breath, walk away because if you don’t it is about to get ugly. Remember your the adult
- Connect, Connect, Connect. Connection is the key that can create many positive changes. Spend time getting to know your teen. Know there will be times she will be silent and doesn’t want to connect. Thats okay. Keep trying. Listen to what she has to say. Does she have a point? Again check in with your body to see if your reacting negatively because she disagrees.
- Catch them doing something positive. I cannot stress this enough. Teenagers are often reminded of ALL the things that they are doing wrong. Imagine for a second how you would feel if your boss reminded you every day of the things that you were doing wrong. But how would it feel to be acknowledged for the things that you are doing right? You would probably be more likely to work harder. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you can’t correct your teen or guide them to making the right decisions, but also learn to balance it with some positivity or they may look for that acknowledgement in not so favorable places.
- Your teenagers are watching. Thats right just like you are watching their every move they are watching yours. It is not what you say, its how you say it, it’s what you do. So if your child is shouting, ask your-self if you shout. If they shut down, ask your-self if you run away from conflict. They are always watching. So be mindful!