Have you ever felt desperate trying to cope with your tenacious teen? If so, you’re not alone. Teens more than any other age group feel out of control. Deep down, they aren’t quite sure who they are and generally struggle to take possession of their own lives.
Achieving a sense of identity is one of the major developmental tasks of a teenager. Somewhere between the ages of twelve and twenty adolescents are forced to choose who they are; a formidable and scary task. Because of this force to make up their minds, they are compelled to control, and can become quite tenacious.
So how can you cope with a tenacious teen? You have to call on God’s strength to empower you with what you will need to succeed, and take steps forward. Today we are sharing pointers to help you handle your teen as they navigate the raging waters of growing up.
START BY BUILDING A PLATFORM OF KINDNESS
Without a doubt, every struggling adolescent needs more kindness. Put yourself in their shoes and recall the pressure you felt as a teen when you built your identity from scratch. By practicing empathy and understanding, you will recognize the value of trying to be a little kinder. Knowing just how to convey this kindness is the hard part. Here are a few tips to help you do just that:
1. Own your part
Consciously and unconsciously, parents may envy or resent the blossoming of youth in their teenagers. And it can cause you to tighten the screws and heighten your control just when your teen should be facilitating more independence. Examine your own role in the tug-of-war, and own up to it if need be.
2. Look below the surface:
Teens are masters of disguising their real feelings. Underneath the surface they may be struggling with unimaginable emotional pain or feelings of being pressured or stressed. On the surface, they’ll conform and give off an appearance of looking just fine. It takes a sensitive and patient person to look beyond the exterior of an adolescent. And as a parent of a teen, you are just the person for this job.
3. Critique with care
How is it possible as a parent to give “advice” to your teen without them perceiving it as disapproval? Many teens agree that talking to their parents about their everyday life runs the risk of making them upset. The more you can bite your own tongue and listen to your teen (especially when a conversation is about to get nasty), the better. When you feel your child needs some guidance, resist the urge to get upset and yell, or lecture. Let your teen speak to you, too. Better yet, let them volunteer to talk. You’d be surprised how receptive they will be to a conversation when you let them control opening the doors.
4. Look for the good and affirm it:
It can be difficult to look past a mess and find the good in it, but will be worth the effort. When your teen has friends over and makes a mess of the kitchen, try to look past the extra work this creates for you and see the positive social value this brings to your teen’s life. When your teen asks you to make pancakes at 10:00 at night, look past your desire to go to bed and take this as an opportunity to connect. Whatever the case, look for the good, and affirm it. This will ease your relationship, and make your tenacious teen much easier to live with.
Breaking through a teenager’s facade undoubtedly takes time and loads of patience. By implementing the tools we discussed today to help you build a platform of kindness, and also patiently waiting it out, you will achieve much more than trying to force it. As a Chinese proverb says: “With time and patience the mulberry leaf become silk.”