Adolescence can be quite a tricky age, especially for parents and nothing is more difficult than dealing with a defiant teen. It’s a period of tremendous struggle both for the parents and the youth.
Although it is quite normal and a part and parcel of the phase for teenagers to defy their parents and test their limits, it is not as difficult to navigate through it all smoothly with a few handy tips and wise ways a parent can adopt to bring a teen in sync with them and have a balanced and healthy relationship.
For our teenagers it is an unusual phase of growing up where they are still in search of their identity and find themselves a misfit since they no longer belong to the age bracket of children nor are they full-fledged adults. This being their only reason for unacceptable, rebellious and argumentative demeanour at most times. And yet, this normal occurrence in teens cannot be an acceptable one.
Parents need to draw a line somewhere and set a certain level of do’s and don’ts and abide by them.
- Rewarding good behaviour
Teach your teen that the fancy things he/she considers as necessities are privileges that he must first earn. And anything he/she does that does not comply with your house rules or acts in any kind of disrespectful behaviour within or outside home gives you complete authority to confiscate these privileges. Vice versa, a good reward and words of support in times of good behaviour is quintessential in this adolescence phase too.
- Avoid too many and repeated instructions.
Teenagers dislike being treated as little children and they crave for parents who show them trust and confidence. For this reason, parents should avoid giving out unnecessary and repeated instructions.
Giving them the right amount of space to do things their way and respecting their choices helps build a great rapport between the parent and teen. Nagging them on and off and constant threats to them just do not work. Instead, try giving directions just once and then if negative behaviour continues, abide by the threat you have issued.
- One issue at a time policy
Adopt a practice of confronting one problem at a time. Focus on the one that needs most attention and then go on to the other. Prioritizing this way and moving step by step is the best way to tame a defiant teen.
Do not bombard him/her with endless accusations. If you are confronting your teen with the issue of studying, stick to that topic instead of bringing other problems like messy room, back answering or other improper behaviour. Once you have control over one behaviour and solved that issue effectively, you could perhaps gradually move ahead with another one keeping the right time and place in mind.
- Stay polite but firm
Often teenagers come across as rude and disrespectful in the course of an argument or confrontation. As parents, however frustrated or angry you feel, you simply need to adopt the model of behaviour and tone that you expect out of your teen.
Reacting and responding as rudely as them will take you nowhere, rather it can be far more destructive, creating a tense home environment. But, if your teen sees you being calm, collected and polite he will be forced to drop his disrespectful manner and learn through what you are preaching. Hence, stay polite but very firm in putting across your point to your teen.
- Be on a neutral platform
Sometimes parents forget that they were teenagers at some point in their lives. Having a perfect, obedient, respectful child takes precedence over the relationship. It is important to first understand the crux of your teen’s defiant behaviour instead of harrowing him with allegations.
As a parent, it is your duty to have empathy for your child and let him be and grow into a unique human being. Try and bring yourself to his/her level and then understand the issues they are facing emotionally and physically in this process of growing up. Often when you put yourself in their shoes, a little clarity comes and you can find a solution to their defiance.
- Independent and supported problem solving
Teenagers go through various kinds of problems be it at home, school, with parents, friends or peers. Sometimes they themselves don’t know the cause of their own defiance. This could be due to suppressed emotions or the lack of a listening ear. Make it a point to have a conversation session with your teen, not necessarily addressing their problems but it could be anything general.
An underlying problem can surface in course of a normal conversation so you need to keep your ears and mind open to it. Offer solutions and help for what they ask you for. And at the same time encourage them to solve their issues in a way they deem fit.