How to deal with teenage children when they become difficult
Raising a family is not easy. There is no rule book to follow because like adults each child is individual in nature. There are people out there who are very quick to criticize another's parenting skills. This is more apparent in those individuals who have had no or relatively few issues with their own children. While it is nice to see that some children are able to grow up with a small amount of normal disruptive behaviour. It is not always the case in all families. In many cases it is not always down to the parents who have tried to bring up their children with rules and boundaries. There is a point in the child's life especially that of the teenage years were there is a change of behaviour. They try and become more willful by trying to push the boundaries on what the parent sees as unacceptable and unreasonable behaviour. In some cases their behaviour can have an impact on the family sturcture by putting a great deal of strain on relationships which in some cases may lead to couples separating. There is also this stigma attached to lone parents being the cause of problem children. This is not the case as I have known children from different backgrounds getting into trouble and even gang culture. Yes it may play a small impact in some cases, but do not be so quick to pigeonhole. There is also a tendency to think that troubled teens come from poor backgrounds. This is not true as all casses have had their foar share of trouble. Even in homes of the most privileged. There are some steps that can be taken to help ease the nightmare of bringing up teenagers. It is not easy by any means. The period of children being disruptive can go on for a few years where the parents wonder when things are going to settle down and when their child may actually become a human being again. I hope my advice helps many families that are going through this siuation.
Firstly we have to remember what we were like at that age. Hormones can play a big part in the change in their behaviour. This can cause mood swings in teens which can range form moody to angry outbursts either verbal or physical. This can be more apparent in girls when they are about to start their first menstrual cycle. I have picked this up in my own daughter. On talking to other parents the pattern is very simillar. Emotionally they are all over the place. It is important to talk to them and to let them know that this is normal. If a parent has not already, explain to the teenager what is happening to These outbursts should not be used as an excuse however for blatant bad manners and bad behaviour towards individuals. It is also an idea that when they do start their periods to keep an eye on their cycle times. It can help to pin point their pre menstrual moods. This will also help you to keep an eye on them especially as they get older and start to sexually experement. This subject strikes the fear of god into most parents. Have no illusions they may begin to experiment sexually with or without your consent. All we can do is make sure they are educated about pregnancy and STDs. It might be an idea to have a chat with them about relationships and allowing others to see them in a more respectful light. Not to bow to peer preasure and do it because their friends are doing it. We can only do our best to guide them but cannot lock them up 24/7. A sensible suggestion for girls to take them to the doctor and put them on the pill. This not only helps with haveing some protection, It will also help regulate their cycles as well as helping to balance their hormones. There is also a product on the market called Quiet life. It is a natural remedy that should be taken once a day the week leading up to starting a period and during the time while menstruating. It contains motherwort, passiflora, valerium, lettice extrat and other calmative ingredients. Please check with a doctor if your child is on other prescriptive medicines. This product can be found in most chemists and supermarkets. We should not forget the male teenager in all of this. Hormonal changes happen in them too. It is just as important to sit and talk to them about what is happening to their bodies and the effects it has on their moods and emotions. We can also talk to them about the issue of respect for their own bodies and that of girls within relationships. Boys feel this peer preasure too. They also start experience moments of emotion where it leads to to violent outbursts. They need the same education and reassurance as girls.
Unfortunatly in this age children are growing up much faster then we did in our generation. Each generation has a habit of pushing the boundaries of the last which they see as old fashioned and out of date. With all the media and television telling them how to look, how to be, and what they should go for in life means that they are far more informed than we were. Teenagers tend to feel they should have more freedom and allowed to do everything now. If you can extend their boundaries slowly but let them firmly know that they are there. Also inform them that you are trusting them with this bit of freedom and if you find they abuse this trust then you will move the boundaries in again until you feel they can be trusted. One example is you have a 14 year old who wants to go and see their friends in the evening at their home. You say fine, but you would like them back at 9pm. For a while this works. After a couple of weeks they start to ask can they stay out later. They may even start to come home five minutes later with an excuse. Then ten minutes later and another excuse. At this point you tell them that if they are not in at the time given then you will ground them or cut their time by half an hour until they learn to respect the rules. Don't just say it, do it. A friend of mine used a three strike system which worked very well. They are at the age to know right from wrong and are also at the age where they can try and get around you as much as they can. If they know they can get away with it they will do it. Another example is when a child says they are going to a friend and that friends child is saying they are coming to your house. With this deception they are not doing either, but are off out somewhere. On being found out, you could employ the grounding tactic. After which you can tell them they have abused your trust so you will check where they are. They may not like this and think they are being treated like a baby. Firmly tell them that if they act like one, then you will treat them like one, it works both ways. With my daughter, I used to not ring each time she went out. Instead I used to do it randomly which meant she never knew if I would call or not which put the sweat on her a little. We want to know that they are safe, but we also want them to extend their boundaries and grow up. There should be a fine balance with lines that are clear to them which they should not cross.
The mood swings that accompany this age bracket are legendary. They don't say a word and the only word they seem to know well is money. I have found that if they want extra money, then they are to do jobs around the house on top of their normal choars like keping their room tidy and putting dirty clothes in the wash and not left on the floor. If they need extra money, they will have to work for it. Jobs like washing the car or cleaning kitchen cabinets out will keep them occupied for a short while. It can also be rewarding for them to think they have done a good job and got something in return. This will teach them about having a work ethic. We all know that gaining something that we have worked for is sometimes more special than something that is just handed to us. It makes us respect something more when we have worked hard for it. Like a good holidy. Teenagers need to start to learn about adult life in it's real form rather than the media picture of the bling culture that is being spoon fed them.
Temper tantrums when they cannot get their own way can be a real problem. If they are very willful and don't respond to punishment like grounding or loss of a privileges like no pocket money, then the situation can be very difficult. Sometimes it can turn into a real slanging match between you and the child which gets either of you nowhere. If it gets to a point where there is no compromise to be had and things will just escalate out of control, it is time to take a different tact. Tell them you are not prepared to talk to them until they calm down and can speak to you properly. Make a point of this. Even if the argument is via telephone or text message. Texting is one way they will try and argue as they don't have to see you face to face. In this case tell them you are not prepared to talk to them until you see them and in a calm reasonable manner. Sometimes the arguments are not just down to them wanting their own way. There may be a deeper reason to why they are so stroppy, especially if this behaviour is not in keeping with their character. They may want to talk about it but are too stressed to do so. Try and pick a time when they are calm and just gently bring it into converstion by asking them, is everything alright with school? How are their friends? Or is there anything bothering them? You could also try and do something together talking to each other you may find what is really at the heart of their mood swings. I have found that sometimes them talking to someone else, another adult like a friends parent, can help. In my case my daughter would talk to her friends parents. Her friend would come and talk to me. There is nothing wrong with this. I know of a parent who took offence to this. It should never be a problem if the parent is reliable which in nine times out of ten cases they are. At least you know they are talking to someone. If the parent becomes aware that the child needs to speak to you themselves then they may encourage this, or may talk to you on their behalf. Our society has become so insular. We are not looking out for others around us. Their friends are an extended family especially when they have known them a long time. My daughters friend has become a part of our family. We always joke and my daughter says that my other daughter is here. Communication is the key whatever form it takes; as soon has that has broken down then problems arise.
Sometimes problems with teens can be down to the parent being overbearing. This is not intentionally being vendictive on the part of the parent. We all want to keep our children safe especially from the trouble they can get into in the outside world, but suffocating them is not the answer. This can make a child feel penned in if they are having to account for their every move and thought 24/7. They feel like they are not trusted or valued. We have to allow them a bit of breathing space with their friends or even in their own room. Being an over dominant parent can cause just as many problems as being too soft. It can lead to under developement of their social skills. This means not being able to interact socially with other people properly in adult life. Not allowing them to experience the world past the front door can lead to them wanting to experience everything all at once without realizing the pitfalls and dangers when they are old enough and finally have that freedom. I would rather know that my children are educated and have some experience of real life rather than keep them home under restraints until they are eighteen years old. Only for them to go out and cause havoc. I have seen this first hand and it is not good for the child or the parents. Trying to find a middle ground is essential and sometimes very difficult but can be very rewarding. There is also the problem that they will try and find a way of doing what they want without you knowing about it. If they then get into any difficulty they will be too afraid to come and ask you for help. This might lead them into some dangerous situations.
Sometimes teens will get themselves into trouble. It is all part of growing up. The strictest and most secure of parents can experience problems. It is important to ensure their child has learnt from their experience. Find out how they feel about what they have done and let them know how you feel. You can add sanctions if you wish, as I explained earlier, to let them know they have abused your trust. Nine times out of ten they will not repeat what they have done.
There are many issues that can make a teenager suddenly turn from a normal balanced child into a child that is problematic and always getting into trouble. This can get to the point where you have difficulty controlling them yourself. If you can get a family member to talk to them especially one that they can relate to then this is good. Sometimes talking to someone else in confidence can make all the difference. It is better to do that then have no one to talk to at all. As well as my daughter one child I know used to talk to her friends parents in confidence. This had helped her to stay out of alot of scrapes. The parent was a good listener and would only contact her own parents if she was going to be in any danger, or if something was serious enough they should know about.
There are other problems that can cause a child to lose their way, one being their parents separating. While the adults concerned are thinking about issues of separation and divorce, it is very easy to forget about how the child is feeling in all of this. This can make teens massively insecure and even angry. Sometimes they feel like they are to blame. It is from this point they start to go off the rails. Keep communicating with them. Both parents should reassure them that they are still loved whether they are together or not. It is also essential to let them know that this is not their fault. More importantly, if there are any issues between the separating parents that may cause arguements, do not do this in front of any child or teenager. Also do not bring the child into the middle of disputes and use them to punish the other adult. For example, making comments about the other adult to the child and try and make them side with one and not the other. Another big issue is preventing them from seeing their other psrent in access rights to spite the other parent, or as a punishment if the child does not behave. Being able to see the other parent should not be a privilage but a right. This is very wrong and I am very upset to say it happens alot between parents who are separating. This can cause psychological damage to a child as well as them going off the rails. Those adults doing this are selfish without consideration to the feelings of their childrfen. The same thing can happen if one or the other parent meets a new partner. In the child's eyes, especially as they are used to both real parents will see the arrival of someone else as an outsider and become aggressive or moody. This may make them feel like they have to share their parent with someone else. It is better to introduce a new partner into the fold gently allowing children time to get to know them. Some children will see this introduction of a new partner as a threat and start acting up and attention seeking because they are jealous of their parent showing someone else affection. It is a good idea to include the child in any activities that can be shared with all of you. It is nice in a new relationship to want to spend time with a new partner but do not forget you need to make sure there is interaction with everybody. This does not matter whose parent has the children. If both parents have children then all of them are important, even if a partner has access right and does not see them full time. There is a danger here of resentment forming if one is favoured above the other. Or make the child who is left out feel not wanted around. Keep thing on a level playing field. While involving your child or children together in ectivities it is also imprtant to let them realize that adults need their time too. While some children do understand this especially some who would rather go upstairs instead of getting grossed out by adults sitting and cuddling on the sofa. There are some children who get put out and again start acting up and using distraction methods to prevent this.
If you cannot communicate with your child at all and really having problems with them that you feel you cannot deal with on your own. It may be a good idea to contact organizations like paentline. They can offer general advice; sometimes a voice just to listen to you is enough. They can also offer a sevice where you can commiunicate with one of their councellors on a one to one basis to help you deal with any problems that you and your child are encountering. This is a great help when there are real problems and it feels impssible to get though to them. If you are worried about issues that you think your child may be getting involved in such as drugs then there is help out there like Frank. They can help with spotting the signs of drug use and give you the names of local organisations in the area if you need one to one personal help.
While parents in a family should always work off the same page and not contradict each other on rules and punishment. For a single parent it can be very difficult. It can be harder if you do not have any family around you to help. There is an organisation called Gingerbread who can put you in contact with single parents in your area who are going through simillar situations. It does help with the feeling that you have someone to share things with and you are not alone with the struggles you are faceing.
As I said at the beginning. There is no rulebook regarding bringing up teenagers. Everyone is different. As a parent you do the best you can. Just don't be afraid to ask for help if you really need it. Never blame yourself if things go wrong. Instead get some help. You will be surprised the difference it makes. Always try to keep communicating with your child. This is the key in helping understand them. If they feel they can talk to you without prejudice that is one big step to avoiding issues.
Try not to get into a full blown dispute with your teenage child as this only escalates the problem.
Listen to them when they talk to you. Often we want to get across what we want to say. We don't actually listen to what they are telling us.
If you need help get help, don't leave it too late. Even childline welcome parents who are having difficulty and may be able to offer a solution.
Never tell yourself that you are a bad parent if anything goes wrong. We do what we can. Teenagers are at the age where they can make their own decisions and have to take responsibility for their own actions.