If you are a parent of teens or preteens, you undoubtedly have already had the opportunity to deal with teenager issues like poor attitudes and eye rolling.
In fact, some kids are masters at pushing a nasty attitude from a very young age. If you’re looking for them to spontaneously grow out of it, I’ve got some bad news for you.
They’ve just spent years perfecting their craft. Why would they give it up now?
After parenting for nearly 30 years with 4 very different kids, I can tell you there are 2 important ideas to keep in mind when dealing with teenagers and their pesky attitudes. Keep these 2 concepts strong and healthy and most other problems will usually remain small and insignificant.
1. Travel down memory lane.
Remember when you were a teen? I’m serious. Spend some quality time thinking about how you felt when you were the same age your teenager is now. Take out a piece of paper and write down what you can remember of how you felt on a daily basis. Things like what worried you and what excited you. What your thoughts were concerning your own parents. What you wished for and why.
There are a couple of useful reasons for doing this. One is to help you empathize with your teen. It is an advantage as a parent to have already experienced the stage of life the child is going through. You need to use that advantage.
Don’t be swayed by the “things were different then” argument. Yes, some things were different. And some things were the same. Neither matters. What does matter is that human beings themselves have not changed in several thousand years. Growing up – maturing – still requires learning to develop and trust oneself and effectively work with others.
The other reason recalling how you felt at your teenager’s age is helpful, is so you will remember to listen – intently – to your teenager at least as often as you speak. When your teenager starts to get the message that you are actually hearing her on a daily basis, a lot of attitude issues will disappear by themselves.
Let me be clear here. I am not talking about being your teen’s best friend, I’m talking about being their ally. Their guide, their mentor. Their coach. Which brings us to the next important concept you’ll need to master to deal with teenagers with attitude.
2. The buck stops…with you.
If you are being your teen’s guide, ally, mentor and coach, then you won’t be needing to be drawn into pointless arguments with your teen. Leaders lead; they don’t get lost in pursuing countless points of a debate.
Remember, when a human doesn’t have the power he wants, he looks for ways to increase at least the appearance of power and control in his life.
Attitudes and eye rolling do that quite effectively for teens. Those behaviors are designed to make you, the parent, think your teen has more power than he really has. And if you play along by arguing, yelling, or otherwise overreacting, then your teen knows the truth.
You don’t feel like you do have control of this relationship. You’re waffling. And your teen knows it.
Not a good moment. How can you coach or guide if you are not leading? So, Mom or Dad, the next time you need to know how to deal with teenagers’ attitudes because you have one staring you in the face, reach around to your back, straighten your spine, find your calm, secure, in-charge voice and say something to the effect of “excuse me, young man (or woman). We don’t speak like that in this family. You may apologize now or after you (insert consequences).”
And mean it. Completely. Look your teenager in the eye when you say it and don’t waver for a second.
If you have not been handling your teen’s attitude issues in this manner, you can expect to get challenged for a while. That’s only natural. Your teen needs to find out if you mean what you say.
Don’t disappoint her. Be the leader you are meant to be in your home.
How to deal with teenagers and their attitudes? First of all, invest yourself into seriously listening to your son or daughter. Secondly, be the strong parent they need you to be when the moment of attitude arrives.
With this straightforward one, two parenting punch, you can effectively earn the respect of your teen.
And respect makes all the difference.