Do you see evidence of this type of behavior in your home?
Do you hear:
- “What are you looking at?”
- “Chill. I’ll do it in a minute.”
- “I’m so dumb.”
- “You don’t know everything.”
- “Just leave me alone.”
Ahhh, yes. You got teen. And your teen’s caught the ‘tude. In our home we called this MSA (Middle School Attitude). At one point my husband and I had 4 teens, 3 girls and one boy. I get it.
In my experience, personal and professional, I have found the boys typically tend to withdraw and shut down and the girls usually become more dramatic.
The teen years can be challenging as our young people strive to figure out who they are and where they fit.
Think of all the body changes. Recall all the social ups and downs. Reflect on the need for more independence and freedom. Remember trying to sort out your beliefs from your parents.
The teen years contain lots of social, emotional, physical, and spiritual challenges.
One minute teens can be playful and fun-loving and then suddenly a switch is flipped and they may be passive aggressive, easily angered, braggadocios, full of self-doubt, self-conscious, withdrawn, and/or moody.
Whoa–There is a lot going on.
Before we can respond well, we need to assess our own attitude and tone.
Do my actions and words convey respect? Am I respectful even when I disagree? What does my tone communicate?
Rather than engage in battle there are some alternative and effective ways to respond to a teen emotional outburst or withdrawal.
1. Ignore the behavior. Let it go. It takes two to argue. You have heard it said, “You don’t have to attend every argument you are invited to.”
2. Stay calm. Don’t mirror their emotion. Present yourself the way in which you would like them to behave.
3. Use humor. But humor that is funny for all. No toxic verbal weapons like sarcasm or mocking.
4. Address the disrespect. “I respect you. I expect respect in return.”
5. Switch up your parenting style from Chum (the friend who is always involved) to the Coach (who steps back but provides guidance, encouragement and structure). Or from Controller (dictating the way things should go) the the Consultant (one who advises and asks questions to get the teen thinking)
6. Model how to handle frustration and anger in a constructive way.
7. Demonstrate thankfulness, gratefulness, and appreciation for your young person.
Teens are a part of the family system–whether they like it or not. It is important during these formative years that they have some extra freedom along with additional responsibility. Combine those individual adjustments with family expectations. Because they are a valuable part of the family they need to participate in family conversations and activities and pitch in around the home.
Just a note: There is a mental health condition or mood disorder called dysthymia
which can look like apathy or withdrawal. It is a persistent form of mild depression. Talk with your health professional or a licensed counselor if you see signs of this in your teen.
Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.