Being the parent of a teenager can be incredibly difficult. They can be aggressive, loud, disruptive, and a cause of tension in the household. You may find yourself feeling rejected and angry as you struggle to relate to them, and full of worry as they navigate the journey into adulthood. You want them to listen to your guidance, they want you to leave them alone. As difficult as it is, there are a few things that you can try to help you.
Understand what they are going through
Teenagers are going through a huge amount of change, and they genuinely feel emotions more strongly than adults do. So when they have an angry outburst or suddenly start crying, it’s important to remember that it isn’t a personal attack, your teen is genuinely feeling emotions strongly enough to warrant that reaction.
They are also feeling a strong desire to be independent and start carving out their own life, so they reject your guidance while at the same time feeling completely overwhelmed because they have never done any of this before, and it’s scary, so they really need your guidance.
The most significant thing that you can do is be there for them. Stay positive, remember that things will get better. Most importantly, remember that you like them and make sure they know that too – it’s their behaviour that is the problem, not who they are as a person. Relate offers some helpful tips on how to cope with your teenager from their relationship counsellors which are well worth a try.
Communicate with them
Communicating with your teenager is probably the most important thing you can do. You must maintain a bond with them so that they feel that they can come to you when they are experiencing difficult times or trying to make decisions about their life. Of course, this is easier said than done when you ask them questions, and they just grunt in response!
It can be effective to make listening a priority over asking questions. The more you really listen to the things that your teenager chooses to bring to you, the more they will feel that they would like to bring things to you in the future. It’s also important to validate their feelings. When something happens in their life that upsets them, don’t try to minimise it or brush it away, this doesn’t make the problem go away it just makes them feel as though they can’t bring it to you. Acknowledge that you can see that the experience must be painful for them and let them talk about it.
Create a space for them
Sometimes just the fact that your child wants to hang out with their friends and be loud can be disruptive to the rest of the household and cause friction. Some people have found that building a ‘teenager den’ in the garden is a great way to alleviate this particular tension. You can order a fully bespoke steel industrial building online, and then make it a project that you work on together with your teen to furnish and decorate it. That way, you get some peace, and as a bonus, you can work on a project together, which will help to build your bond.
Look after yourself and seek support
It’s important to be there for your teen, but it’s also OK that sometimes they enrage you! Make sure that you talk about what you are feeling with a friend or counsellor so that you can process it, and not bring it back into the home. Action for Children offers an online chat facility that you could make use of – it’s free and completely confidential, and they encourage you to talk about absolutely anything!