Any parent will tell you that raising teens sometimes feels like an uphill task. While a normal teenager can certainly push your buttons, bringing up a difficult teen can feel impossible at times. The arguments and shouting matches between you and your troubled teen can make you feel like you live in a war zone. Everything you say seems to lead to a fight, and you end up wondering how your sweet child could have become such an obnoxious teenager.
After a while, the negatives and roadblocks of raising a difficult teen start bogging you down. If you’re not careful, you could find yourself being sucked into a constant pattern of fights and disagreements that eventually make your home a toxic place for the whole family.
In order to avoid this, it’s important for parents of difficult teens to find suitable coping strategies that work for everyone. It may be hard to imagine, but working through the challenges that arise when a teen is facing mental and emotional struggles can actually bring a family closer together. To help you cope with your difficult teen, here are some tips that may help you.
A little humor and empathy go a long way
Raising a difficult teen can feel as if you’re navigating a minefield. In such cases, a little humor can diffuse the tension before things get out of hand. Additionally, reminding yourself of everything your teenager is dealing with—from body changes and hormones to increased peer pressure and academic struggles—makes it easier to cut them some slack.
Give your teen space to solve their own problems
Most parents want their teens to grow up to be independent and responsible adults. One way to help them do this is to allow them some room to make their own choices and solve their own problems. You aren’t always going to be with your teen, so equipping them with the right problem-solving skills will come in handy whenever they’re faced with tough choices.
Involve teens in decision-making
In addition to problem-solving skills, your teens need to know how to make sound decisions. Involving them in decisions that affect their lives not only imparts these skills but also makes them more likely to adhere to whatever decisions you make, as they will feel more empowered.
For instance, allow your teen to have a say in choosing your next family vacation, managing their own allowance or deciding some of the rules and boundaries they should have in the home. Giving them some responsibility allows them to develop confidence in their abilities and can help keep a difficult teen from pushing the envelope.
Establish clear rules and consequences for your teens
Parents of difficult teens are often surprised when they’re told that teens often do better where there are clear household rules, boundaries, and consequences. These make it easy for the teen to know how to behave and what is expected of them. To encourage their cooperation and ensure everybody is on the same page, it’s advisable to involve teens in setting household rules and boundaries.
Plan and engage in family activities
Constant fights and arguments can take their toll on the whole family, creating rifts between you and your kids. To counter this, plan and take part in lots of activities together.
Going out for dinner or taking a trip as a family helps all of you hang out, talk, bond and reconnect and these create special memories for all of you to carry through life.
Make time for your other kids
Misbehaving teens have a way of monopolizing their parents’ attention, to the detriment of other kids in the family. It’s therefore important to make time to catch up and hang out with your other children, so they don’t feel neglected or forgotten. It also helps your more difficult teen feel like they aren’t being constantly monitored for every little misstep.
Find time to focus on yourself
Bringing up a troubled teen can be exhausting even for the most resilient parent. That is why it’s important to make time for yourself.
Find constructive ways to boost your mental and physical well being, e.g. spending time with friends, joining a support group of parents who understand what you’re going through or just make time for your hobby. Blowing off steam allows you to relax and rejuvenate, and it also helps you to keep fighting for your family.
Finally, don’t be afraid to seek out professional help if all else fails. There are therapeutic boarding schools, counselors, therapists and others who are ready to provide the answers you need to help your struggling teens get their lives back on track.