Talking-back, lying, sneaking out of home, arguing, yelling, hiding.
The teenage years are indeed a trying time, for both parent and child. You wake up one morning and your sweet, obedient child now absolutely refuses to listen to mom and dad! You’re probably confused, and also very frustrated. But there’s an explanation for their behavior. It’s called adolescence. Adolescence is the developmental stage of life which usually lasts from 12 to 19 years of age, and is most often characterized by rebellion, i.e., acting out against one’s parents or other authority figures like teachers, mentors, coaches, and even elder siblings.
As a parent, you may feel angry, helpless, and even scared for your child’s safety. You try your best to understand what he/she wants, but to no avail. While there may not be one particular reason why your teenager is acting out, there are a few possible reasons which could contribute to it:
- Adolescence is a time during which we struggle to find our own identity. While growing up, we have always listened to our parents and done what they have told us is correct. But now, we have developed the mental capacity to think and reason out issues by ourselves. This makes us want to explore the world and find out who we truly are, rather than blindly follow our parents’ words.
- Another reason we rebel during adolescence is because we want freedom. Up until now, we have been bound by rules at home, at school and by society. Now that we have seen how adults live, we want to break-free and experience that freedom too, but are denied it. This makes us angry, aggressive and demanding.
- As adolescents, we are trying to fit-in. Coupled with trying to find our identity, we are also trying very hard to fit in with peers at school. We want to fit-in because we want to be accepted and liked. At this time, we may also give in to peer pressure, without knowing the consequences of our actions.
- Yet another reason is because we want to take charge of our own lives. We now have the ability to make decisions on our own. We want to be in control of our own lives, but are not allowed to do so. This adds to our frustration and struggle.
So what should a parent do when the teenager rebels? It is definitely a challenging time for the family, but there are ways in which the situation can be managed:
- Understand their needs: First and foremost, you need to focus on understanding what your child actually needs. Having a sit-down discussion, where the focus is your child and not yourself, may be helpful. It may take a few attempts to get your rebellious teen to communicate his needs properly, because he himself may not be sure of what he wants! But keep trying and help your child figure out what he wants.
- Be aware: Adolescence is a time of experimenting and risk-taking. This means that your teen may want to try out new things, and may not tell you about it. Become familiar with the your child’s friends, and their families as well. Be aware of where your child is going, and when. However, do not be overbearing or overprotective, as this may frustrate your child.
- Settle on compromises: When it comes to making rules, your child may oppose every rule you lay down. Instead of making the rules on your own, have a discussion as a family, and come to a compromise on certain rules. Talk about boundaries and where to draw the line between right and wrong. But remember, the more imposing and rigid you are, the more your teen will oppose you.
- Assess your parenting style: The way you are as a parent matters a lot, especially during adolescence. You may start becoming stricter with your teenager, without realizing it. So take some time to assess your parenting style. You can use this link as a guide.
- Accept your child: Last but not least, remember to accept the fact that your child is going through a normal developmental phase of life. He/she is not purposely acting out to anger you; he/she is facing the challenges of a new journey. So don’t become your child’s enemy. Instead, be a friend, guide, confidante, and support system.
The terrifying teenage years are indeed a trying time for you as a parent. Our experts at Parenting on Demand are trained and experienced in dealing with such adolescent issues. If you feel lost and helpless with your teenager, talk it out with one of our experts today!