Arguing with Your Teen?

 
 
 
So the next time you are about to “tell” your teen for the 5th time to take out the trash, stay off the phone or stop gaming until midnight, which ends in an argument or worse —” a fight”, consider not “taking the bait.”
 
Raising children in today’s culture atop a pandemic is excruciating!   It’s not like being a parent was ever an easy feat, but we are truly living in unprecedented times exacerbating unpleasant behaviours by our teens and younger children.
 
Children’s lives are disrupted in many ways— socially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  Let’s face it, parents were once buffered by afterschool programs, extracurricular activities, sports, and other types of recreation.
 
Growing pains exist in parenting; but with current environmental changes on children and parents, the parent-child relationship can be tenuous. At the end of the day, our teens and younger children want to belong!
 
 
AM I SUPPOSED TO FEEL THIS WAY?
QUESTION: What are the emotions you experience in response to your teens’ “non-compliance?”
 
Feeling trapped is probably the most debilitating feeling.  As parents, we tend to get our feelings by our teens.  Before we respond, could we pause and examine the goals of the behaviours,
 
our emotions, and response?  Legitimate or illegitimate,  no judgment here, some of our responses are either cultural or steeped in our own unmet needs and forced environmental conditions.
 
Is it possible to consider that our teens are unsure of themselves during these adolescent/teen years of growth and development?  So much so, that they possibly do not understand us.
 
 
 
Although our times are different, studies,  overtime shows, “talking with” your teen in ways that allow them to be heard and understood.
 
This creates an opening for understanding, respect, and boundary setting.  Believe it or not, teens want to connect to their parents/caregivers.
 
 
WHO ARE THEY–REALLY?
If only it were that simple?  I think we do forget that they are really humans and not aliens.  O.K. so that is probably debatable at times!  As parents, we come to this aspect of our lives with varied experiences and backgrounds from age to culture,  traditions, and beliefs.    However, it is a general consensus that parenting –particularly adolescents-teens can be challenging.
 
 
 
 
Technology can be argued as being one of the best innovations of our time. With the increase of technology, it has brought about efficiency and connections in a multitude of settings globally–hence the internet with all its risks and benefits.
 
  With that said, teens have access to people and information at their fingertips.
 
Inherent are norms and values that are different from what parents are wanting to instill and expect– conflict is inevitable. Not to mention this access is an ego-escaping route to not have to deal with the demands and disruption.
 
They are developing physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. They have demands coming at them from home, school, peers, and the like. Recent disruptions have forced on-line learning for most.
 
This forced way of being is counter-intuitive for our teens. They, too, experience stressors.  Much of an adolescent/teen’s development period, or stage of development, focuses on social-emotional and skill-building.
 
 
 
These demands require skills and mastering of skills to meet the demand in such a way that allows them to move on to the next stage of development with a sense of competence in their abilities.
 
  During these times of development, teens oftentimes experience confusion and many insecurities-problems, and opportunities.
 
Disruption during this phase is critical.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, during COVID-19 outbreak, pediatricians saw a rise in parents expressing concerns for their children who were exhibiting “uncooperative behaviours” and suggested an increase in social support and other needed interventions for children and parents.
 
  For more ways to increase parent-child support, please see below.   /pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/146/4/e2020007294
 
QUESTION:  Do you ever think back to how our parents or caregivers made it with us when we were teenagers?
 
 
Parenting styles can really impact the parent-child relationship, especially in instances of conflict. We still have options even within our constraints.
 
Our children’s misbehavior or “uncooperativeness” is a sign of discouragement according to psychiatrist Rudolf Driekurs.
 
They want to belong in ways that are meaningful and useful. The demands and needs of teens in the face of changes, in various contexts, need not be viewed as a problem, only; but also an opportunity for us to guide our teens and implement discipline as needed. Another perspective, consider what it was like to be neither a child nor an adult?
 
 
PROBLEM-SOLVING- Part 1
 
You really do have options instead of “taking the bait.” It is important to note that teens are making decisions that are different than the ones their parents would for them. Again, values and cultural influences are operating here.
 
According to child psychologist Don Dinkmeyer, most of their decisions are not dangerous or life-threatening; therefore, the issues that cause conflict can be resolved. The following are guiding points to determine your involvement or not. Said another way, who owns the problem.
 
  1. Are my rights being disrespected?
  2. Could anybody get hurt?
  3. Is someone’s property threatened?
  4. Is my teen unable to take this responsibility?
 
By examining these questions, it becomes clear who needs to solve a problem. It could be the teen or the teen and the parent. In either case, the utility of these questions opens up dialogue and possibilities.
 
 
 
PROBLEM-SOLVING- Part 2
Another important consideration in guiding your teen and disciplining when needed is the idea that behaviours are goal-directed. Dr. Dreikurs affectionately refers to teens and children as “non-compliance” as children and teens trying to belong in four common ways. He identifies the four goals of misbehaviour. As parents, observing, listening, and understanding our teens will greatly assist with appropriate responses. The four ways are the following:
  1. Attention
  2. Power
  3. Revenge
  4. Displaying Inadequacy.
By understanding the goal or goals, parents can better identify with their teens’ needs. This in turn will help guide the teen to more positive behaviours. This tends to produce better outcomes in the parent-child relationship. The next time, you are about to “take the bait,” consider your options.
 
QUESTION: What did parenting look like prior to industrialization. Would love to hear your thoughts!
 
 

“Consent not to be a single being.”

– Edouard Glissant

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