One of the most unpleasant side effects of teenage behavioral problems is the toll that takes on the family dynamic because this creates friction between adults and their teenagers. Parents who are pulled in too many directions can have a hard time keeping up with all their demands.
Friction among mothers and teenager happens when your need for rest or self-care is challenged by the needs of others in your care. Check in with yourself. Have you been taking care of yourself?
Reduce your own stress levels by engaging in activities you love, going to the gym, and eating a healthy diet. Take care of your own needs so you have the energy to help your teenagers sort through their issues.
The most common advice you’ll read online is to “spend more time” with your teenager, but how can you do that in the midst of all the hostility?
When a teenager has behavior issues, parents often aren’t enjoying the time they spend with their teenager. This can be both frustrating and guilt-inducing “because as a mother, you’re supposed to love spending time with your child”.
Improving the parent-teenage relationship should be a priority for all families dealing with Teenager problem behavior. To that end, try to increase the number of interactions you have with your daughter/son that are positive and don’t promote conflict. For example:
Use behavior management strategies that reinforce what you do want to see (like giving clear instructions in a neutral tone of voice or using lots of labeled praise) instead of comments that are critical or focus on what you don’t want to see.
Pay attention to your own emotions and look for healthy ways to deal with stressful situations without escalating them. Use your own emotional self-regulation skills or give yourself a time out if you need a moment to cool down.
Like in any relationship you want to nurture, think about how you can build on (or create) meaningful bonds with your teenagers. Are there common interests you can cultivate? New relationship rituals you can establish?
Set aside a small amount of time every day to be present and non-judgmental with your daughter/son.
How to establish a daily quality time
Even a small amount of time set aside reliably every day can become something teenagers and parents learn to look forward to. This should be a time for positive connection, without rules or commands, to help everyone in the family defuse stress and appreciate each other’s company. This should be considered a special time and should not be contingent on a teenager's good behavior. Here are some tips for success:
Aim for 15 minutes with teenagers where you ask how their day was, every day. Teenagers can be guarded, but simply asking how the school day or after-school club meeting went will help them realize that you're actually interested in their day-to-day experience, not just their grades and achievements. Be specific in your questions to encourage real answers: “How did the other kids in the club respond to your idea about…”
“Who do you usually have lunch with these days?”
Let your teenager choose an activity she enjoys and you just join in. Watch movies or a weekly TV show together. Get the popcorn popped and enjoy some downtime with your teenager. Let them choose the movie rental or Netflix flick. Don’t try to make this a regular Friday night thing, or your teenager will feel like you’re trying to keep them from social events. A Sunday night movie time when your teenager can relax before the upcoming school week and after doing a lot of homework would be ideal.
Actively listen and let her lead the conversation, Pay close attention to what your teenager says. Teenagers often communicate much more than what they may seem to be saying on the surface. Read between the lines and pay attention to tone and body language.
Do chores WITH your teenager as a way to bond.
Teenagers don’t always necessarily recognize the time and work that goes into maintaining a household. I know I certainly didn’t understand how difficult it was until I got married and moved out into an extended family home.
Saying something like, “Wow, we’ve both had really long days, if we work together to do these dishes it will go so much faster and we can both relax sooner,” is a great equalizer. The more you demand they do things or have a negative attitude, the more likely your teenager will resist.
Here is my step-by-step guide to help you heal after a broken relationship with your child so you can feel free again. Re-Connect To Your Inner Wonder Woman