Giving angry glares, employing the cold shoulder, and screaming the words “I hate you!” all have one thing in common: They are tactics used by teenagers to demonstrate the angst they have for their parents. Even though it’s a pretty regular occurrence nationwide, when it’s your teenager using them toward you, it can make you feel like the worst parent in the world. You wonder where you went wrong and have no idea how to proceed.
These feelings are completely understandable, but it’s important to realize that it has nothing to do with you. You are a great parent, an exceptional one, and before too long, your teen will realize it. But until then, here are some tricks to help you get through the teenage angst stage (yes, it will pass) with your sanity intact.
When your teenager demonstrates his anger towards you, it is only natural to feel your own blood pressure rising. But it’s your job to keep your cool and set a good example, so control your mounting rage by taking deep breaths. It may even help to count to 10 (in your head or out loud) to make sure you give yourself enough time to cool down.
Take the High Road
In the heat of the moment, it is way too easy to fight right back with your teen. Why should you have to just sit there and take the abuse? Well, you should because you are the parent. You are the role model. You are setting the example you hope your kid will learn to follow. And if you do give in to temptation, you may say something you will regret and push your teen further away.
Know the Science Behind It
If you only get one thing from this article, let it be that there is something going on in your teen’s brain that neither he nor you have any control over. The part of his brain that controls his reasoning (the prefrontal cortex, if you want to know) isn’t working normally during his teenage years. So it’s really not your fault, and you shouldn’t take it personally. But it’s not really his either. Yes, of course he still makes his own choices, but his common sense is running low and his emotions are running high, which is not a good combination for anybody.
Show Some Empathy
When parenting teenagers, it is always important to empathize. Your kid needs to know that you understand what he is going through. Even though you may not always agree with everything he does or says, you should always try to put yourself in his shoes. You can even share some of the stories from your teenage years with your son to let him know that he is not the only teenager in the world that is having a hard time. Heck, you can even tell him how much you disliked your parents as a teen, too, but now you have a great relationship (only if it’s true, of course).
Try to Connect
Even though you and your teen aren’t always on the best of terms, there will be some priceless moments where you can actually have a civil conversation and even laugh with each other. Treasure this time and make the most of it. If your teen opens up and confides in you, just listen with an open ear and try not to interrupt with any judgment or solutions. And it may seem cliche, but enforcing family dinnertime (even if only a few times per week) can work wonders at building your bond.