The teenage years are difficult for kids and parents.
But how do you know if you’re dealing with normal teen difficulty or open rebellion? Does your teen need more attention from you, or do you need family counseling? We see plenty of families dealing with difficult teen behavior. We’re here to help you read the signs and navigate what to do.
Know the Source
Teens are rarely if ever difficult because they actually hate their parents – no matter how many times they use those words. They still love you, but they may not know how to express it. If your formerly sweet child is suddenly a defiant teen, try to discover why. Your son may be pulling away from friends he’s known all his life, or your daughter may be struggling in school. Remember that your teen’s actions aren’t personal; you’re just a safe target because he or she knows that your love is unconditional.
Take Care of Yourself and Others
When a teen is especially difficult, he or she takes time and attention away from you and the family members who need you. Ensure everyone, including your teen, takes care of him or herself. Eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep is crucial. Your family also needs productive mental health activities. Turn off electronic devices and encourage everyone to read, play games, and talk to each other.
Don’t Lash Out or Dismiss
When your teen lashes out, it’s easy to blame it on hormones or say things like, “You are so disrespectful! You’re ruining this family!” Don’t do it; this will only make your teen feel unvalued and push you away. Instead, look for a calm moment and listen. Don’t try to fix the problem. Don’t say “Get over it” or “This won’t matter in five years.” Show empathy. Your teen doesn’t want to be difficult, but he or she does want your time and affection.