“Teenage years”, are not easy years for parents and teens alike. Some teenagers can be seen as moody and angry, at times disrespectful and clumsy. Parents might even feel heartbroken and sad when faced with their teens attitude.
If that is the case for you and you have experienced unpleasant attitude from your teen, please don’t despair. It is not their fault!
Let me explain! There are a number of factors causing them do what they do in this critical and scary age.
1- Their frontal lobe is not yet fully developed. They are still working with brains that are under construction.The front part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, is developed last compared to the rest of their brain. The prefrontal cortex is the decision-making part of the brain, responsible for the ability to plan and think about the consequences of actions, solve problems and control impulses. Changes in this part continue into early adulthood.
Because the prefrontal cortex is still developing, teenagers mainly rely on a part of the brain called the amygdala to make decisions and solve problems more than adults do. The amygdala is associated with emotions, impulses, aggression and instinctive behaviour.
2- Your teen is learning to become independent. They are growing up and want to show it to the world but they don’t know how to handle disagreements and different point of views properly. All they want is to have a voice and say what they want to say.
3- At times, they feel frustrated because they even don’t know how to express what they mean and their inability to communicate could create misunderstanding and frustration for others, too. And sometimes, they are worried or scared and the only way they communicate is through anger and bad behavior.
I hope you feel a bit better now. Instead of reacting and changing the situation or trying to change our teens, we can learn more about their brain and better ways to communicate and interact with them.
Here is what I learned and share with other parents on handling their teens behavior:
1- Concentrate on the way you feel when countered with their bad behavior and communicate it to them but refrain from labeling their behavior. If they are misbehaving, not responsive or rude, just tell them how their attitudes and actions are making you feel instead of telling them they are rude or irresponsible. This will make them think about the consequences of their action instead of reacting and defending themselves.
2- Try to communicate to connect. Be an active and patient listener when they talk to you and show that you are interested in them. Share with them the mistakes you have made and what you learned from them when you were young.
3- If you want them to act in a certain way, you need to model it and show it to them first. They are watching you and learning from you. Don’t argue with them and if you are angry, keep some distance and take some time to breath and relax. Again, they are observing and learning. Also, don’t take their bad attitude personally.
4- Instead of lecturing them on what they should or should not do, listen more and let them talk to you. Ask them to talk about their day, their frustrations and show them you care.
5- Whatever you do, please don’t use sarcasm. This is one of the things that triggers more resentment, anger and disrespect towards you.
6- Set some rules. Let them know how people should talk and behave in the family but encourage the behavior with understanding and love.
Remember, there are some instances when some major and deeper issues are involved that need medical and professional intervention. Don’t be shy or embarrassed to talk to other people and seek help.
I hope this helps. Being parent was never to be easy but we all know it is really worth it!