Door slamming. Crashing and banging. Shouts of ‘I hate you’ and ‘You’re the worst mum EVER’.
You join the leagues of parents all over the world who are dealing with tricky teenagers. Hormonal rows and tantrums can create a real sense of disharmony and tension in the home, but how do you get through these challenging years? One thing many parents consider doing is installing a spy phone app into their teenager’s cell phone, to keep an eye on what they are up to and to ensure that social media is not creating more problems. But what if it is not that? What can you do to make life a little happier for the whole household?
When things are good, celebrate them
Think about how you would deal with a toddler. You try to ignore low level ‘bad behaviour’ as far as possible and reward positive behaviour, and the same goes for the teenagers of the house. For example, if you and your team have a reasonable conversation, finish off with a casual ‘hey, was great to have a chat’. Do not make a big deal about it, do not shout it across the room or embarrass them and go back to whatever it was you were doing after. If you can, non-verbal communication such as a high-five, thumbs up or a simple touch of the shoulder as you walk past can mean as much to a teenager as praise. By doing this a couple of times a day, you will see an increase in the number of positive interactions you have with your teen child.
Make sure any ‘punishment’ is appropriate for the action
It can be tempting to go all out when your teenager does something that they shouldn’t and punish them heavily, but if you hand out big punishments for minor things, when they do something really wrong, you have nothing to fall on.
Many parents opt for a punishment that involves a loss of a privilege, whether that is the use of their cell phone, TV, or games console for a specified period. Other parents like to use ‘grounding’ where their child is not allowed out other than to school. Keep it brief – no more than a night or two, and make sure that they understand the punishment correlates to the behaviour.
Find a way to meet them in the middle
Even the best-behaved teenagers are going to push the boundaries at some point – it is a normal part of growing up, and sometimes, you must pick your battles. Find some sort of middle ground. Maybe you can relax bedtimes a little if they meet you halfway on some other issue. Perhaps they can go to that party if they do a task.
Teenagers can be hard work, that is for sure. However, remember that most parents experience the same frustrations and problems that you do, and talking to them to find out how they deal with things is a way to feel less isolated.