Parenting an Angry Teen
Discipline techniques change a bit when kids hit teenage years. Hormones are jumping around, and kids are vacillating between acting like young children and young adults! As children grow older, it's a parent's job to give them the freedom to make their own choices (with guidance) and practice self-discipline. Kids will test the limits during the teen years. How a parent responds can make or break household conflict. Encouraging your child to take responsibility for her choices and her behavior will be important. Use the following tips when working with your teen:
Teens will try to push a parent's buttons by acting in disrespectful ways which may involve backtalk or disrespectful mannerisms. At this point, it's very important that you continue to stay calm and show your child respect...even if she is not respecting you. You can calmly let her know that you will be happy to continue the conversation when she is willing to speak respectfully. When she realizes that she is not pushing your buttons, the disrespectful behavior may stop. In addition, earn your child's respect on a daily basis by giving her some decision making control, being a good listener, and role modeling respectful behavior.
Don't get into yelling matches. Just that! Yelling matches are not productive. In addition, you will demonstrate negative, disrespectful behavior. Stay calm and revisit the issue when you are able to communicate in a calm manner.
Keep the lines of communication open.
Be available and willing to talk with your child. Let him know that you are there when he is ready to talk. Make observations about his behavior and encourage him to talk with a close, responsible adult if he doesn't feel like talking to you (for instance, "You look like you have something on your mind...do you want to talk about it?"). Even if your child doesn't open up to you, let her know that you are there to listen!
Set clear guidelines and behavior expectations as well as clear consequences
. Some examples might be: withhold privileges, dock computer or screen time, take a cell phone away, ground. Your child needs to understand your expectations.
This is where a behavior chart or behavior contract can come in handy. Surprisingly, a behavior chart can be effective for a teen also. You might want to call it a tracking chart, consequence chart or give it another name that sounds more acceptable to a teen! For example, if your daughter consistently backtalks, then you can set up a behavior chart that targets disrespectful talk and reward her when she makes an effort to stop. In addition, if she doesn't stop, you can set up some clear consequences. Instead of telling your daughter in generic terms that she is "behaving badly and needs to improve", lay out each behavior specifically that you would like her to work on.
Finally, make your limits clear. Certain behaviors are nonnegotiable and let your child know. Be clear and consistent with your limits, too, so there are no misunderstandings.
With clear communication, consistent consequences and a respectful attitude, you should have a more calm household with your teen!