Even if you have a teen who’s well-behaved, it can still be difficult in terms of parenting. What if your teen isn’t so well-behaved, however? What if your teen has problematic behaviors?
Problems parents often have with teens range from low grades all the way to legal trouble such as petty theft or other arrests.
When you are a parent and you’re dealing with a teen, and particularly a rebellious or difficult teen, the thought of positive parenting can be the furthest thing from your mind. It is possible, however.
The following are some tips to help you change your mindset when it comes to even the most problematic of teens and shift to a more positive parenting mindset.
1. Try to Empathize
When things are at their worst with your teen—no matter what the specifics of the situation might be, empathy could be the last thing you’re thinking of.
However, empathy is an extremely important part of positive parenting for kids of any age. It doesn’t alleviate the stress of legal problems or anything else that comes with parenting a problematic teen, but it can help you shift your perspective.
Empathy requires you to look at the situation and see why your teen might be acting a certain way, and you may even be able to think back to times in your life where you could relate.
When you practice empathy, it does help you be better prepared to identify the actual source of your teen’s problems. If you can pinpoint a source, it may help you work with them to solve the problem rather than them continuing to act out because of the problem.
2. Get Help From the Professionals
Whether it’s a lawyer to help your teen in a legal situation or a therapist, it can be extremely helpful to get help and input from professionals when you’re dealing with a teen.
You might not be able to do it all on your own, and part of positive parenting is understanding that.
3. Stay Calm, No Matter How Difficult
Teens are always working to find their place in the world and a big part of that is going to include trying to push your buttons and see how far they can go. It’s important that when practicing positive parenting, you remain calm and collected, no matter how hard that is.
When you aren’t able to stay calm, your teen is going to respond similarly to you.
As a parent, you may want to work on specific strategies that can help you keep your cool when your teen is pushing all of your buttons. For example, maybe you learn mindfulness strategies or breathing techniques.
4. Don’t Become Disconnected
Between the feeling that your teen is pushing you away and trying to be more independent, and the fact that you may not be seeing eye-to-eye, staying connected is tough. Even in the worst of times (and maybe even more so then) work on staying connected. You can set boundaries and let your teen know when they aren’t doing the right thing without making your time or love conditional.
Set aside time every week to spend one-on-one with your teen. Practice listening and really hearing what they’re saying rather than only talking.
Even if you aren’t getting along or your teen is in trouble, make it clear that you aren’t going anywhere.
5. Don’t Focus on the Unimportant Things
As your teen is growing up and learning, and possibly finding themselves in some trouble along the way, you want to set boundaries and rules. However, you don’t want to micromanage or make everything a hard and fast rule.
Think about the things that are most important and focus on those. Let the small, unimportant things go. If you’re always criticizing and nagging your teen, they’re much less likely to listen to you on the important things.
Finally, as part of positive parenting strategies for teens, rather than telling your teen what to do all the time, help them learn problem-solving strategies. Let your teen work things on their own sometimes, and let them know that you are there and you’re willing to help, but only when they’re ready. One of the greatest skills you can teach your teen is problem-solving.
When your teen is ready to talk, do so without judgment and while being completely present. If your teen asks your advice, rather than telling them what to do, try to ask questions that help them come to a good conclusion on their own.