One of the most frequent complaints that parents of teenage children bring into counseling is the total loss of control that occurs in homes with said children. Parents complain that their once loving child no longer responds to their directions and sometimes communication breaks down to such an extent that both parties no longer speak to each other for weeks on ends.
Our first advice to them is to understand that the teenagers behavior is most probably a reaction to what has been happening in the home for a long time. Although this elicits an expression of surprise and exasperation they are then carefully explained that this means that the problem is also fixable provided the parents are ready to follow a few simple simple rules. (Although we deal on a per case basis there are some basic rules and regulations that can be applied to almost any family with teenagers)
1. Always set clear rules about what are acceptable methods of communicating and which aren’t.
Throwing their bags across the room when they return from a difficult day at school is not a healthy way to ask for help and nurturance from a parent. Teens need to learn that this may actually have a paradoxical consequence. Start by saying, “Ayesha i’ve noticed you seem to be using derogatory terms when talking about me? Do you mean to insult me? ” the teenager will often quickly realize thats not what they want.
2. Dont lose it!
Most parents are often able to understand the importance of this point, although they are less than able to exercise self-restraint when sending a scathing retort across the room.
The logic behind this is actually very simple. Two adults handling a rowdy teenager or two makes sense, but three teenagers (the actual teen plus the two out-of-control adults) playing power games is not a recipe for success.
3. Good person, bad behavior
Remember there’s only so much that a child can take before he or she switches off and stops listening to you. remind yourself that your teenager is a good person who is acting in a negative way. that’s a lot different than labelling the entire person as bad. Not surprisingly such judgements never help too.
4. Be the change you seek
“I must practice what i preach”. Here we come to the beginning of the article. Please speak to your children only as you expect to be spoken to. you may be their parents but you don’t get to speak rudely or harshly and expect love sonnets from your teens.
5. Catch them speaking nicely and let them know
Be sure to give them feedback about when your teens do speak nicely. this is important in the change process.
6. Ignore some bad behaviors
Correcting every single slight in behavior is neither productive nor helpful in the longer. Start ignoring behaviors that are not very offensive so that you can focus on the ones which are not allowable.