Written by: Shani Fowler
Lazy, argumentative, uncooperative and moody, a twist of surly with an added dash of churlish rebellion and we have the perfect cocktail – dealing with Grumpy Teenagers! Teenager years are probably the most dreaded years for parents, but teenage years are just as difficult for the teenager themselves.
Though it can be hurtful that not so long ago your child seemed to look up to you adoringly, treat you with respect and value what you had to say, (well sometimes at least) and now all they seem to want to do is argue over the slightest thing with you and stomp around in a constant bad mood. You have to remember teenage is a phase of life we all go through. And it will pass! The body is changing and the hormones are surging. These physiological changes impact on the teenage brain, in particular they affect the emotional centre of the brain, causing moodiness, over-sensitivity and a change in attitudes. Teenagers begin to think and feel deeper than they have before. It’s the transition into to adulthood, the dark tunnel with a light somewhere at the end.
You might be hoodwinked into thinking your child doesn’t still value your input, they do but they aren’t going to say so! It is important to keep communications open and bear in mind that you just need a greater level of patience and this particular juncture!
Here are a few dos and don’ts to help:
Do – set clear and agreed rules and stick to them. If you say they can stay out until 9.30 make sure they stick to it and understand why this is the agreed time to come home. Changing the boundaries and “letting them off” for being late will send signals that the rules don’t really matter and boundaries are exactly what they need through this challenging period.
Do – try to remain calm when their “attitude” raises its ugly head. Calmly say what needs to be said even if they are rolling their eyes and their face couldn’t display less interest if they were watching paint dry. Getting annoyed with them will just fuel the situation.
Do – be a role model. You need to behave to your child the way you want them to behave with you and others, blaze the trail and lead by example.
Do – praise them. It’s all well and good being quick on the draw when they have done something you’re not happy about, but you need to praise them when they have done something good or when they are being constructive – this positive interaction will let them know you are not just “on their case” all the time and do identify with them.
Do – have a laugh together. You can still share a laugh. Often a bit of good old fashioned humour can cool the heat of a situation and your teenager can be reminded that you are human after all.
Do – remember that you can speak to professionals. If you are really concerned about your child you can speak to teachers or counsellors or even your GP. Mostly this isn’t necessary but do remember that there is help out there too.
Don’t – forget that they are going through a difficult time. Their appearance is changing, they aren’t likely to be overjoyed by the constant eruption of spots on their chin, or how their once shiny locks have changed to lank, greasy, unmanageable hair. Girls especially may struggle with the change in their body shape. Try to be supportive. Appearance means a lot to many of us and especially the young.
Don’t – take what they say too personally. Try to remember that this is a phase and they don’t always mean what they are saying.
Don’t – be sarcastic, argumentative or give a lecture. These acts are likely to trigger a stalemate create frustration and resentment.
Don’t – pick a bad time to discuss something. If it’s clear your teenager is not in the best of moods pick a different time to discuss a difficult topic you need to address.
With a little bit of patience, understanding and boundary setting you and they will get through this period of time. Try to remember that your child is growing up, trying to find their own place in the world. Not all teenagers are challenging but it is a normal part of teenage growth and development. Talk to other parents and see what they say, you might pick up tips on how they deal with certain situations or find you can help them with your advice. It will be refreshing to know that you are not going through it alone!
And remember if you find yourself saying the same things to your children your parents said to you – you can be sure – you were just as bad, before you were the sweet Pina Colada you are today, you were once the Grumpy Teenager!