YOU LOVE YOUR FAMILY, and you're dedicated. But you also know that parenting a teen or tweenager is hard work.
Everybody says the attitude is normal, just deal with it. But how do you get through the day-to-day of parenting? How do you keep things from escalating? How do you maintain your cool in the moment?
Kids are dealing with hormones and the challenges of school (which are awful), but it doesn’t mean parents should accept being disrespected.
There are ways of handling teens and tweens that cultivate a better relationship during the difficult ups and downs of development.
Let’s take a look at a few strategies to help teens get beyond anger:
Be quick to listen and slow to react. A good listener who is slow to react helps a teen or tween feel more comfortable talking about whatever is on the mind. Avoid strong reactions or outbursts of emotion. Listen with an open mind.
Insist on respectful communication. Whatever needs to be said is permissible as long as it is said respectfully. The point is to let kids know that whatever they want to say, it can be said IF said the right way. A parent might explain, “You can talk to me about anything. I’m listening, but just don't disrespect me while you say it. “
Keep in mind they don’t always mean what they say. Whatever an angry teen or tween is saying doesn't necessarily mean they will stand by it later. It just means they are expressing their perception of reality at the moment. It’s a state of mind that might change in a few days or even a few hours! The point is to be present and listen at the moment.
Be patient with their development. Remember that the logical center of the brain known as the frontal cortex isn't fully developed until the age of 25. We've just got to help kids walk through the irrational season of life they're experiencing. Validate their words and feelings where you can, and attentively listen even when things don’t make sense.
Try to be available when drama hits home. It’s so worthwhile to stop and listen. Kids have daily drama. It may not feel important enough to stop everything and be present when they want to chat, but if we can communicate the message that we are willing to be available when they need us, it pays big dividends eventually.
It’s not easy being a parent in the years leading up to adulthood. If we can help our teens and tweens process their emotions and let them know we have felt the same things - we identify and even still feel many of the same feelings they do - a bonding moment can occur in the midst of drama and strong emotion. Some kids just need to feel they are heard, understood and not alone. They need us to have solid strategies for parenting through the teen years to come out on the other side as whole and happy adults.