It can be tough to deal with teenage tantrums. Your normally nice, polite child can transform into a sulky, sullen rebel almost overnight!
Teenage mood swings are a normal part of growing up. However, this doesn't mean that you should put up with rude, obnoxious, or damaging behavior. There are strategies you can use to be firm, but fair with your teenager.
It may help to try and take your teenager's behavior with a pinch of salt. Approach the teenage years with a bit of humour. This will help you to keep problems in perspective and to stay calm during difficult patches.
Remember - you were a teenager once too!
Think back to your own teenage years and you may remember feelings of confusion and frustration.
Many teenagers and young adults feel as though they would like to be more independent and have more freedom. They are at a time in their lives when they are discovering who they are, and growing into themselves as a person. So, it is important to respect that and show your teenager that you understand what they are going through.
The key to a good relationship with your teenager is communication. Find a way to spend quality time together. This could be after an evening meal, on the drive to school or when you do an activity together that you both enjoy. Talk to your teenager. Get to know them as a person. Find out their likes and dislikes, hopes and ambitions.
Encourage them to communicate with you, by making it clear you are always there for them if they need you. By taking an interest in your teenager as a person, you can show them that you respect them and value what they have to say.
Choose your arguments
There may be many things about your teenager's behavior that are frustrating you. This could mean that you feel you have to constantly nag them to change the way they behave. This can be exhausting and frustrating for both of you.
So, choose the most important issues and let go of the less important ones. Life may become a little easier all round.
For example, it may be that your teenager is always late home at night causing you to worry about their safety. This is more important than, for example, the fact that your teenager drops socks on the bathroom floor.
Try not to nag your teenager. People often switch off to repeated nags and so by saying the same thing over and over again, you may be having the effect of making your teenager even less likely to take in what you're saying.
Don't take any of your teenager's behavior too personally. Arguments are an unfortunate, but inevitable part of family life. Words spoken in the heat of the moment can be hurtful, but are often spoken with anger and may not be how your teenager really feels. Talk to your teenager calmly after an argument and ask them how they are feeling. You could explain that what they said upset you. If you said something you regret, apologise for it. If you want your teenager to think about their behavior, then you need to as well.
Ask them what they think needs to change for an issue to be sorted out. That way you are showing them that you value their opinion and giving them the chance to talk about their feelings in a calm way.
Meeting in the middle
Learn the art of compromise. If your teenager asks for something, try not to say no immediately if their request is reasonable.
If it poses a problem, for example, if your teenager wants something that is expensive, you could ask them to do household chores in exchange for pocket money.
If the request is to do something you are not comfortable with, for example, to have a girlfriend or boyfriend stay the night, or to go out at night to a disco, think carefully before you answer.
Talk to them honestly about the issues you are worried about (for example, underage sex, their safety) and ask them how they feel about this. Try to find a compromise. A boyfriend or girlfriend could stay the night in a spare room. Or, your teenager could go out with friends as long as you take them there and pick them up at a time that is reasonable for you.
Praise good behavior. Let them know you have noticed a tidy bedroom, and are happy with them. If they do well at school, reward them with a privilege such as a sleepover or day out.
If your teenager is lazy and refuses to help around the house, try not to lose your temper. But, don't be a servant to your teenager. This will make you feel resentful and your teenager won't learn how to do household chores.
Instead you could calmly tell them how much you would appreciate their help. If this doesn't work, you could stop doing as much for them so they realize the consequences of being lazy. For example, if they refuse to put their washing in the clothes basket, refuse to wash their clothes. This may be difficult at first but it will teach your teenager the error of their ways!
Above all, try and relax. The most important thing you can do is to make it clear that you will always love and be there for them. If you have brought up your child to be honest, respectful and polite, then those qualities will probably always be there. And your terrible teenager might not turn out to be so bad after all.
Get help when you need it
Teenagers sometimes push the boundaries and can get themselves into difficult situations. If your teenager's behavior is particularly worrying, for example, if they are in trouble at school, or getting into dangerous situations, you may need to step in. Talk to your child's teacher, or with the parents of their friends.
If they are drinking alcohol or experimenting with drugs, speak with your doctor for advice and support.