I’m thinking about teen comportment today, because, as a mother of a teen, I am hit upside the head daily with examples of my love/hate relationship with their behavior. I’m sure it’s the same for you; one minute, you are having a totally cool conversation, or being silly together, or quietly eating dinner, then WHAM! A two-by-four of attitude whacks you on the back of the skull. Not only are you emotionally hurt, you’re embarrassed. Where did it all go wrong?
I want you to read this awesome article by Kathy Benjamin on MentalFloss.com. It is a completely science-based post about the thirteens through nineteens (give or take) and why they do what they do. Basically, it’s the brain that’s to blame. Take a look and think about your teen years and whether this is off the mark. It may help you when dealing with the emotion fairy.
How do you handle a rapid change of demeanor? And does yelling help? We’ve come to understand that our kid, when hungry, can be kind of unhappy and hard to talk to. Subject avoidance usually works in these cases. So any time there is something important to discuss or a lot of questions to be asked, we wait until after a meal or snack. Be wary of sleepy times, too, since emotions seem to be bubbling at the surface and can quickly derail a conversation or dramatize an innocent question or comment.
Parents are supposed to be the mature ones. But what should you do when your kid is pushing all of your buttons, from sassing, to refusing to do something, to just being completely ugly? Does it help to punish them, or have a fight about their attitude, or to just walk away? When they’re sorry, do you forgive them, even if you aren’t ready? Does ignoring a problem mean that it will be easier for your kid to do something worse to push the envelope, like lying, stealing, drinking, drugs, sex? And is there a time machine to the future to see if you made the correct parenting decisions?
Whatever you do, please make sure you tell your child that you love them. And if their behavior is not up to scratch, be sure that you differentiate between them and their behavior. Surprise! Your teen is going through their second toddlerhood, and you need to try to keep their hands away from the hot stove.
Love and Luck,
The Armchair Psychologist