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Dealing with teenage attitude

Dealing with teenage attitude
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It may seem like your teenager is attitude personified, but underneath the scary scowl is a fragile bundle of hormones that needs a little TLC. Instead of responding to your teen with a barrage of criticism that piles on the pressure, try backing off and taking a tentative step into their oh-so-carefully-chosen branded shoes of the moment. It could help you both out …

Attitude – What Gives?

Typical teen attitudes can vary in severity, but the following behaviours may seem familiar to anyone sharing space with an adolescent or young adult:

• A ‘Whatever’ approach to life – they couldn’t care less. Or so it seems. They actually do care. A lot
• A ‘Why Bother?’ attitude – like there’s no point to anything – this is commonly seen in relation to schoolwork, household chores or anything else that demands them adopting a smidge of responsibility
• The ‘Parents don’t know nothing!’ stance – we were never young, nope, not us.
• A false sense of entitlement – as if exam results, jobs, money, material must-haves will just ‘happen’ because they want them to
• A sense of never having to do anything they don’t want to do. Ever again. (Ha! Sorry kid, grownups may seem like we have all the fun but we still gotta eat and pay the bills!)
• A completely warped sense of reality

Parents – Typical Responses

When faced with the above behaviours, most parents feel both frustrated and helpless in equal measure. We all want the best for our kids, so our natural reactions may play out something like this:

• Attempts at stamping the last vestiges of authority on your parent/child relationship by laying down strict house-rules that Colditz would be proud of
• Extended diatribes about why they are wrong – nag, nag, nag …
• Valiant efforts to illustrate why their version of reality is flawed
• Presentation of irrefutably logical arguments in support of your experience and knowledge of the world It rarely works.

Get a Grip, and Let Go

Face it – one human cannot force another thinking adult (young adults included) to think the same way as them. And if it’s one thing teens hate, it’s being told what to do, and how they should live their lives. Makes sense really – if you think about it from their perspective that have spent their entire lives at the mercy of their parents’ will. As they grow into independent human beings they develop opinions of their own, and will grab with both hands every opportunity to be heard. It’s a way of starting to separate themselves from their parents, a cutting of the proverbial apron strings.

Prepare for reality

Dealing with teeage attitudeAcknowledging this is a significant step towards managing it. As an adult you know that throughout life there are rules you have to follow in any number of given situations. Instead of trying to mould your teen into a mini-you, help prepare them for this reality by creating boundaries within which they can flex their muscles of opinion and learn how to compromise without losing their sense of self.

By concentrating on the behaviour of your teen, you divert the focus away from their attitude – constantly nagging them to improve their attitude only creates resentment and is a battle you can’t win.

Treat them like adults

They want to be adults, so treat them as such. Acknowledging your teen’s frustrations and outlook on life (however bizarre it may seem to you!) is important for their self-esteem. But that’s where it ends. They also need to learn accountability, and consequences. (This approach may seem better placed in toddlerhood, but teens often need a hefty nudge to learn that it applies in the real-grownup-world too.)

Tell your teen that they may not like or agree with the things you say, nor with the fact they must attend school and do their homework etc. but that’s how it is as long as they are living under your roof. Most teens are still heavily reliant on their parents for many things, and this can help you in your mission to help your teen understand that life is about give and take:

• Yes, I will pick up you and your friends on Friday night, but only if all your coursework is complete before you go out
• Yes, you can have the new trainers, but I need to see you pulling your weight with chores around the house first – your job is to do laundry/load the dishwasher/vacuum round
• Yes, you can borrow the car. When you’ve completed and sent off three decent job applications

Choose whatever blend of reasonable rule-making works for you and your teen. They may not like you for it now, but being a parent isn’t about being your kids’ best friend – it’s about helping them grow in to decent, caring human beings. And they will thank you for it one day.

 

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About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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