Dealing with a rebellious teen can be tough. Homes with rebellious teens can descend into chaos with lots of yelling, slammed doors, angry retorts to innocent questions, and refusing to do homework. Over the years, I have learned the strategies that work versus those that are ineffective. Here are the ones I have found work the best.
1. Figure Out What Your Are Prepared to Put Up With
Teenagers will behave in many different ways that will annoy and frustrate parents.
Examples could be the clothes they wear, the mess in their room, or constantly staying up late.
Strong reactions to every behaviour that upsets you will set you up as a parent who is impossible to please, and you will feel like you are constantly arguing with your child.
Eventually, your continuous nagging will become normal behaviour that is easy to ignore.
In short, you will sacrifice a few battles to win the war.
2. Tackle One Issue at a Time
Attempting to tackle a bunch of issues at once will significantly weaken your resolve. A teen can exhibit many undesirable behaviours, but if you tackle all of them simultaneously, you will spread yourself too thin.
Focusing on one issue at a time (starting with the easiest ones first) will have more chance of success because you will be clear about what you are trying to accomplish.
3. Reserve Serious Conversations for When You Are Away from Home
A serious conversation outside of the home will put you and your teen on neutral ground.
The home may be considered a place where the parent has all of the power. A conversation at a park or cafe will put you both on an equal footing, and your dialogue is more likely to remain constructive without degrading into a futile argument.
4. Create Win/Win Scenarios
You should avoid having conversations where the parent is always the winner, and the teen always loses.
When you both feel like you have gained something from the discussion, it’s good for everybody, and your teen will feel like they have been heard.
For example, instead of laying down the law about screen time, ask the teen to suggest a limit. Or, if the teen does not contribute to the household chores, get their opinion on how much work around the house they think would be fair.
5. Walk Away if Tensions Start to Boil
When you feel like you are getting nowhere and frustration and anger are bubbling to the surface, it’s better to walk away. Try again later after everyone has calmed down.
6. Don’t Be Judgemental
Don’t use judgemental phrases when discussing issues with your teen. For example, phrases like “you never” or “you always” will put your teen on the offensive.
If you overuse these phrases, your teen may start to believe they are a problem child, exacerbating their challenging behaviour.
7. Walk In Their Shoes
It’s easy for a parent to point out ‘obvious’ solutions to a teens problems. Comments like “you would know where everything was if you kept your room tidy” or “just imagine how good your grades would be if you didn’t spend so much time on your phone.”
Teens won’t view these statements as solutions. Instead, they will take them as criticisms and feel resentful and irritated.
Instead of criticising your teen for everything you think they are doing wrong, try building a better relationship by talking with them and actively listening to what they have to say. Teens who feel like they are being heard are more likely to react favourably to good advice rather than take them as criticism.