How to Discover Hidden Reasons Behind Misbehavior - Teens
PART THREE: TEENS
This is the final blog in a three blog series about discovering the hidden reasons behind our kids’ misbehavior. Many situations in life are universal. Many of the things that little kids go through also affect big kids and teens. That’s why I suggest you read last week’s blog since this week’s builds upon it. Common reasons I discussed in the last two blogs are hunger and thirst, teething (hello, wisdom teeth!), growing pains, and exhaustion.
However, once we have teens, there are a few unique things that kind of turbo-charge issues that lead to misbehavior and bad attitudes.
Hormones - Hor-mon-ies, as spoken by Aunt Voula in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, totally accelerate and exacerbate every issue that our kids may have. Both boys and girls are going through both physical and emotional changes that can be highly unsettling to them. While hormones aren’t an excuse for bad behavior or disrespect, once we are aware that estrogen and testosterone may be fueling this behavior, we can at least understand better and parent with empathy.
It’s funny that as we age, we tend to forget that time of our life and how difficult it was at times. By recognizing this and gently communicating with our tween or teen, we can grow closer to them, keep open the paths of communication, and let them know that we are a safe resource for them.
L.O.V.E. - Along with raging hormones come feeling towards boys/girls that they haven’t had before. This just goes with the territory. This is a phase that none of us looks forward to. We want to protect our children from hurts; we want to save them from broken hearts; in some ways, we want to keep them little. But LOVE is all part of growing up. While we can’t prevent them from falling in love or like with someone, what we CAN do is keep open lines of communication with our kids. We may not be able to snuggle with them as we did when they were younger, but we can still purposefully find opportunities to bond with them and have them open up to us. We want our kids to come to us first when they have questions or concerns about romance. ;o)
Bullying - For some reason, bullying tends to increase with this age group. Social media may play a big role in this. The opportunities for bullies to do their thing is made much easier by Facebook, Snap-Chat, and other social media platforms. Communication and observation of our kids’ social media accounts is really essential at this age, especially if you think they’re being bullied. They may not want to tell us that they’re being made fun of or made to feel bad, and then they just act out disrespectfully towards us because they feel bad about themselves. Find time to communicate with them, let them know that you and your home is a safe place for them, and gently probe, observe, and listen, listen, listen. Get under the hood.
Worry/embarrassment - Kids at this age, tend to internalize worry….worry about boys/girls, grades, bullying, and then we, their parents, get the brunt of their attitudes. As with the above issues, communication is key here. Observe, gently probe, and listen, listen, listen. You may not be able to fix the issue they’re worried about, but you can let your kids know they’re loved and accepted regardless of issues they may worry about. Communicate, communicate. communicate.
Asserting Independence - As if hormones, love, worry and embarrassment aren’t enough, along with all of that comes a huge push for independence at this age. Our kids want to be autonomous; they want to be adults-even when they are still impulsive and unsure of who they are and what they want to do with their lives. All of this is all kind of jumbled together in teens and tweens. If I had a dollar for every time a teenager disrespected me and then later apologized, I’d be rich! As parents, it’s our job to encourage our kids to make wise choices. But we can’t do it for them. If we squeeze them too tightly, often, they will act out to assert their independence and free will. The teen years are years of transition when we are preparing them for adulthood, and they are torn between wanting to adult (which is hard) and wanting to jump right back into the nest (which is safe, but they still want to exert their free will). It’s a time of great tension. They think they’re mature, but they’re really not. Once we’re aware of this cacophony of hormones/free will/embarrassment/worry/impulsiveness/need, we can approach our teens with wisdom and empathy. Again, communication is key with this age group, perhaps more so than any of the others.
The teenage years can be some of the most trying for both the parents and the teens. Even if we have set up a strong foundation during their early years, teen years will still be tumultuous. We just need to do our best to guide our teens to make wise choices and communicate with them every day. Listen to them. Pray for them; pray with them. Take them out to lunch. Go for a run together. Monitor their social media. Expect that they will often think your ideas are dumb; that’s just part of them growing up and carving out their own path. And remember, this phase too shall pass!
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Hi, I'm Beth. I help busy moms ditch the overwhelm and gain confidence, so they can enjoy parenting more, yell less, and have peaceful kids and a happy family.