Welcome to the Terrible Teens

You might have heard of the terrible twos but what about the terrible teens? Well, this is pretty much the evolved form of that early form of tantrums, screams and sobs. You see the terrible twos are all about little ones testing their levels of independence. Essentially, a child will say or show that they want ice cream before bed. And you’ll say, you can’t have ice cream before bed because it will keep you up all night. They’ll scream, tantrum, hoping this will help them get their way. Eventually, they’ll give in and learn you have authority over them. 
In the teen years, it’s the same situation. Only this time, the teenager knows they have some level of independence and freedom. They’re just not quite sure how much; so, they push boundaries until they find the line that they can’t crash. The tantrums are quite similar too except there will be a lot of doors slamming and the occasional angry scream down the hall. You might have the occasional severe argument and, in general, it can be a rather unpleasant time. The good news is that usually this period of terrible teens is either intermittent or only lasts a couple of years.

On the other side, you’ll find adulthood. Adulthood is brilliant because your child is no longer a child. Instead, you can interact with them on the same level, share similarities and confide in them as you would a best friend. You’ll also find yourself looking back at the teenage years with rose colored spectacles which is why parents who have reached the adulthood stage of their child's life are wondering what on earth I’m going on about.

Regardless of whether you think the teenage years are troublesome or not, you’ll probably find this advice helpful.

Give Them Space

My house my rules’ is a phrase commonly used during the teenage years. Or ‘if you’re living in my house you’re going to obey my rules.’ It does make a lot of sense because you have to make sure that they respect and understand your authority as the adult. However, by saying this you also make the teenager question whether they have a space in the home, since it’s not their house. This can lead to them looking for other areas where they can spend time instead which isn’t always a massive problem. However, they should still feel as though they have somewhere to come back to that is theirs.

The answer to this problem is the bedroom. Give them complete domain over their bedroom...within reason. That is their area of the home and as long as they don’t break some basic rules, you’re not going to interfere. This gives the teenager some much needed sense of both independence and space. It also means that you won’t have to worry about them intruding on your privacy when you want some ‘me’ time. 

Handle The Mood Swings

How do you deal with a teenage mood swing? Batten down the hatches, retreat and wait for the storm to pass, or tackle it head on? A passive approach might be the best way to handle a mood swing. Don’t engage them directly and instead just let them fire out until they realize that they’re not getting anywhere and wander off in a sulk. A bit later you can cautiously approach them and inquire as to what caused the mood swing in the first place.

If you do this, you can usually avoid the direct line of fire and get the answers you need to solve the problem. It’s not a completely foolproof plan because if you time it incorrectly you can end up in two arguments.

You must also be aware that mood swings can be a sign of a more serious problem. It’s common for parents to dismiss mood swings as just hormones going crazy but there might be more going on. For instance, commonly signs of bipolar show up first during the teenage years. Bipolar depression is a condition that develops with euphoric highs and severe lows that can leave someone completely lethargic. You have to make sure that you’re not mistaking someone who is clinically unwell as a lazy teenager.

Be aware that mood swings can also be caused by problems outside of the home. Nearly 20 percent of students will be bullied some point during their school life. It’s not uncommon for someone who is being bullied to take their emotions out on their parents when they get home. That’s why cooling off periods can be useful because after that you can discuss the issue together. 

Dangle the Carrot Or Stick?

Always aim for the carrot. From an early age you should set up a reward system for children. This means that if they behave well they are rewarded for it. If not, well then, maybe a punishment is necessary but you’ll find life a lot easier if you focus on the rewards. As your child gets older and enters the time of teens you might find that they feel reward systems are condescending. So, you have to keep the rewards in place while not directly stating this is what’s happened. For instance, don’t challenge them to show good behavior. Instead, reward them when they do something positive and subconsciously they’ll associate positive behavior with rewards. Be warned though, some teenagers will realize you are manipulating them and may respond adversely. 

Should you Get Involved with Friends And Relationships?

Parents struggle with the question of whether or not they should get involved with the friendships and relationships of their children. For instance, you might think that your little angel has befriended someone who is going to be a bad influence on them. Should you keep them apart or persuade them that’s not in their best interest to stay friends with them. It’s understandable that you want to protect your teen from someone who could end up hurting them whether it’s a girl who will almost definitely be trouble or a boy after one thing. 

You need to keep two things in mind here. First, it’s useful for teenagers to make mistakes with friendships and relationships so they can learn from them. Second, they probably won’t listen to you anyway and by staying out of it you can avoid an argument.  However; it's always important to remember that your intuition has value--and, in spite of giving the teen independence--you are still the parent and you need to maintain some level of involvement for your child's safety and well-being.

I hope this helps you navigate life when your little one enters the teenage years. Some parents get through this age completely unscathed but for others, it’s certainly more of a challenge.

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