1. Pay Attention
Your teenager needs to know that they are being listened to, and it is important that you show them that their opinion is valid. Even though this may be the natural reaction to a teen who is being violent, loud or aggressive, dismissing them immediately will send them the message that they are not worth considering, making them feel inadequate. This will anger them further in the short term, and have a lasting effect on their self-esteem in the long term.
2. Respond Logically
There is absolutely nothing worse for a teen to hear than the parenting classic ‘because I said so’. Imagine if someone said this to you and how you would feel and respond. This phrase is guaranteed to make your teen feel boxed in, trapped and even depersonalised. As your teen matures and grows into a young adult, it is very important to help them gain and maintain a strong sense of self, and conversing with them in a mature and logical style will help them to learn how to negotiate with people in the future. This will also help your teen to understand your point of view, potentially preventing further conflicts.
3. Stay Calm
It is the easiest thing to get defensive or angry when presented with anger or rudeness from another person. However, there are two important reasons why you should stay calm during a conflict with your teen. Firstly, it is much more difficult to shout at someone who is speaking softly and who seems not to be affected by an aggressive tone, especially if your teen seems to be attempting to provoke you.
Secondly, you must remain on a higher level than your teen, ‘be the adult’ in the situation. If you are shouting at your teen and they are shouting at you, then there is no clear reason why you should be more right in your opinion than they are. In addition to this, your teen is still learning from you and imitating you a great deal, even if they claim they want to be nothing like you. For this reason it is vital that you remain a good example for them.
4. Name the Problem
Your teen may seem hysterical or even confused. It will help them to identify the emotion that they are feeling, and also shows that you understand them.
So you are feeling angry that you have a curfew at 11?
The problem will become easier for you both to solve if it is fully understood. This may sound simple, but it is important to remember that your teen is on a path to emotional maturity, and it is quite likely for them to experience very strong emotions, which they may not be able to describe or understand. This is partly due to their hormones acting up, but also they have far less experience in dealing with their emotions than an adult would have, so they might need your help figuring it out.
5. Praise Good Behaviour
It may seem like your kids are all grown up, and praising them for good behaviour might seem unnecessary or belittling. Additionally, the cocky attitude of many teens may give the impression they need to be taken down a peg or two rather than boosted. However, this is often a defence mechanism.
Praise remains the most powerful tool parents have for improving their teenagers’ behaviour, even if they don’t seem to care. Comments such as, ‘You left the kitchen tidy’ or ‘You did your homework really well’ are enough to show them that the good things that they do are being noticed and appreciated. It is important not to overact this as you would do with a toddler, but you needn’t obsess over the tone of what you say. Honesty is really the best policy, and teens will find this honest, low-key type of praise much easier to accept and handle.