As a parent of young children I was often warned by older parents about how much harder it is once your children reach their teens. I was warned about bad attitudes, resent, conflict, defiance, dishonesty, vandalism, drugs, alcohol, stealing, rule-breaking, and incidents with police. I was told to expect worry, stress, heart-ache, sleepless nights, expense, tears, and frustration. When I looked at my little ones smiling, learning, and playing happily I couldn’t imagine them ever giving me the sort of trouble that I was frequently hearing about. Surely that sort of thing only happened to other parents, right? Maybe parents who had less control than I, parents whose children had got in with the wrong crowd, or had been suffering through a messy divorce or family shake-up. I was being extremely naive A problem with a teen or teens running wild can happen to any parent, and more often than not an out-of-control teen has many underlying issues. You can identify one potential problem and then be side-swiped by a completely different one. One family thought that they had found the answer to their 15 year old girl’s extreme hostility at home once they found out that one of her friends had a problem with alcohol. Assuming that their own daughter’s troublesome behavior was also due to consuming alcohol they confronted her about it. To their surprise, and their daughter’s credit, the truth was that their daughter was trying desperately to help her friend and as a result her school grades were suffering and she had lost other friends. The stress of this situation was weighing heavily on the poor girl and unfortunately the only outlet she had for her own frustration and anger was her home life – her parents. There is huge pressure on teen children In our very modern world teens are under massive pressure coming at them from many angles. What is extremely important to you may be way down on their list of priorities. You want him to focus on achieving better grades at school, but at school he is far more focused on getting hold of the same MP3 player as his friends. You want her to take more piano lessons because she enjoys playing so much, but she wants to spend time chatting with strangers on the Internet. Adults can be seen as a constant irritation to teens. You can almost guarantee that no matter how great your relationship with your child he or she will find something to complain about. A teen that doesn’t bounce weird parents stories off his friends is a rare find. Adults are enforcers of rules and regulations to them; a never-ending source of criticism, disappointed looks, and harsh words. It’s not surprising then that teens will often feel at war with their parents. By the time a child reaches their teen years they are used to their parents ways and methods. They know that they might be grounded for bad behavior. They know that you will take away treats if they break the rules. Some of them are so used to this that no matter what punishment they get it won’t make any difference at all. In fact it will just lead to even more resentment. If you’ve been giving your child time-outs for years then is it now time stop using this punishment and to look into other ways of encouraging better behavior? Many parents use positive reinforcement methods and find that they work far better than punishments. This doesn’t mean that you’ll suddenly become a soft and ineffective parent, but sometimes you have to bend a little to prevent yourself from breaking. There are methods that will work for you Identifying what exactly is at the root of the problem is a daunting task for even the most dedicated parent, but if you educate yourself by reading online help articles, get tips and advice from good sources, and tackle the problem with an open mind then you can improve almost any situation. Find out what to look for, and research methods that do, and do not work. With the right knowledge, the right guidance, the right approach, and the right help, what seemed for so long like a raging battle could be over very quickly – with everyone winning.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gary Thomas is a researcher and parenting advice article author, but most importantly he is an always-learning father of five wonderful children aged four to seventeen. For more family tips and real solutions to the problems faced by parents visit Parenting Advice Pages