Where does the time go? You little baby, who used to look into your eyes with the purest, most innocent adoration, now glares at you with anger. Instead of cooing, they yell and curse. The feet that once tapped and fluttered inside your belly, bringing tears of joy to your eyes, now stomp around the house. Where did it all go wrong?
Your teenager no longer wants to communicate with you—doesn’t even want to hear you. You feel the gap growing between you and your child, while the sense of loss grows inside you.
According to a survey conducted by KidsHealth.org and TIME for Kids, about 33% of older kids (12-14 years of age) said they argued frequently with their parents—that’s 1 in every 3 kids.
Why has your teenager rebelled against you, and how should you deal with it to mend the relationship?
Keep reading for all the answers to your questions and tips for reconnecting with your defiant teenager.
Your child has the right to make decisions and fail.-Balance in Wonderland-
1. Why is your teenager rebellious?
If your child is in rebellion, it means he or she has built up resentment and frustration towards you that makes them want to act contrary to your words—but why?
You might be thinking that you’ve always led your child in the direction you believe is right and good for them. But if your guidance has been deaf and blind to your child’s interests, your child will most likely grow frustrated.
No matter how sincerely you lead your child to do things for their own benefit, if your child is miserable and finds no meaning or happiness from it, it’s of no true value to them.
Your child has the right to make decisions and fail. They will learn and grow from the experience. Let your child lead his or her own life while you facilitate and set boundaries for their safety.
2. What is your teenager seeking from you?
Your child wants to feel that he or she is more precious than anything—in other words, they are seeking your unconditional love. Teenage children want you to treat them with respect, in a non-judgemental manner and without comparison, whether they meet your expectations or not.
Of course, showing your love toward your child is such a grey area, because everyone has a different way of expressing love.
You might have set high priorities for your child around academic and athletic performance so they stand a better chance for success at a top university. But if your child is not seeking your love on those terms, you are not meeting their needs or giving them love they can feel.
The more you try to force your child to walk a path you’ve chosen for them, the more their resentment toward you will grow. Moreover, there is a much lower chance of your child succeeding on a path that has been imposed on them against their choice.
Instead of focusing on leading your child in the direction you find most beneficial, ask what their true desires are for their future and think about how you can help them to make it work.
Treat your teenager with acceptance and love, regardless of their ability and achievements.
3. How to communicate with a defiant teenage child
It is hard to understand your defiant child’s true intentions when all they give you is silence or bad attitude.
You might have a list of complaints you’re itching to mention to your child every day, from their messy bedroom to their tumbling grades and inappropriate outfits.
It can be heart-wrenching to watch your child walking a tightrope of questionable choices, but lecturing and scolding him or her about their shortcomings will not point them in the right direction.
Instead, set aside the conflicts of the past and start a conversation about what your child wants to do. Be transparent —admit to the fault in your previous one-way communication and express your desire to guide him or her in the right direction.
Tell your child that you can see it isn’t easy for him or her to accept your voice of concern, which probably comes across as nagging and lecturing.
Promise to give them more credit for their efforts and extend more trust that your child will make the right choices on the path that they’ve chosen.
Remember to let your child know that you will step in when you see them undertake any action or choice that places them in danger.
4. What to remember about their age and development
Your teenage child is physically larger now, maybe even bigger than you. Because of that, it is easy to regard him or her as capable of thinking at your level of maturity.
But it’s important to remember that your teenager is still a child who needs more time to develop mentally and psychologically, and accumulate enough life experiences to make deliberate decisions and choices.
However, that doesn’t mean they’re incapable of exploring their options and going through some trial and error on their own terms.
5. What is the best approach and what main message should parents convey to their teenage children?
When you point out your child’s questionable choices and express your disappointment, it can easily convey to him or her that your disapproval is about who they are, which can lead them to feel unaccepted and unloved.
Let your teenager clearly understand that your concern is only about the behavior or choices that place them in danger, and has nothing to do with who they are. Show them that you love and trust them, and that you’re always there to help them.
6. What mistakes should parents avoid when talking to their teenagers?
- “Of course, that’s what you’d do”
- “What’s the point of talking to you?”
- “Why can’t you be like…?”
- “I never was like you when I was your age.”
- “I don’t trust you.”
- “Why should I give you any more chances?”
Any comment expressing sarcasm, doubt, comparison to others, or low expectations of your child should never be used.
Even though it might be nothing more than blowing off steam in the heat of the moment for you, to your child it will feel like you don’t value them as a person when they fail to satisfy your expectations, and that you no longer have faith in their potential.
7. How to deal with aggressive and disrespectful manners?
When your child gives you bad attitude and treats you disrespectfully, don’t tolerate it—not even for the sake of mending the relationship.
Letting your defiant child use you as a punching bag is not the way to let them know you’re there for them.
You have to let your child know that you won’t tolerate that treatment and you will resume the conversation when they’re ready to leave the bad attitude behind.
Then walk away from the situation without waiting for it to calm down. You have to set clear boundaries around disrespectful manners.
8. What to say to a teenager accusing you of not providing enough financially?
First, find out where that accusation and resentment are coming from. Is it because your refusal to provide material things they’ve asked for makes them feel rejected as a person? Or, is your child experiencing bullying due to a lack of things their peers have, resulting in their frustration getting channeled toward you?
Explain to your child that you are doing your best to provide the things they need. But if there are things they wish to have regardless of necessity, they need to earn them, not demand them. The wisest financial advice you can give your child is, “We buy what we need, not what we want”.
Remember that no matter how frustrating it is for you to watch, your child is also suffering, since it is their life in a mess and they are the one struggling with it every day.-Balance in Wonderland-
9. What is the biggest mistake parents of teenagers make?
One of the biggest mistakes parents can make when facing their rebellious child is letting their unfiltered shock and anger show in the same way that their children express it to them.
It is a big emotional challenge to deal with your child expressing defiance toward you. Although it is okay to verbally express that you’re hurt by their resentful words, avoid getting into a yelling competition and expressing your own anger, frustration, and resentment in hateful terms. This will only widen the gap between you and your child faster.
Another thing to avoid is reciting the list of things your child is doing wrong—this usually accomplishes nothing to stop them, and doesn’t motivate them to do better.
Remember that no matter how frustrating it is for you to watch, your child is also suffering, since it is their life in a mess and they are the one struggling with it every day.
Your child needs to know you have trust in them to take the wheel, that you see their efforts, and you’re always there to help them when they need it.
Parents can give their rebellious teenagers the wrong impression if they fail to express their unconditional love, trust, and belief in their child from an early age. This misunderstanding often stems from parents forcing their own priorities in life onto their children and pressuring them to walk a path that the parents have chosen for them. It is imperative to let your child know that you value their interests and you’re willing to support them, as long as he or she isn’t in harm’s way. Even more importantly, they need to know you will always love them no matter what, and you’ll be there for them without fail.
You might also be interested in reading the posts below:
- How to deal with child gaming addiction—a step-by-step guide!
- 10 mistakes parents make that do your child more harm than good
- What is absent parenting and why is it so damaging to children?