Ah, the moody teenage years. The point in every person’s life where teenagers think they know more than the previous generation that sired them. They take on big issues and then lock their emotions away, thinking that only they can handle it. It’s a delicate time for everyone, and if not handled correctly then it can cause some rifts to form.
The teenager needs to feel secure and respected, but you also need to penetrate their defenses and get them to listen to your side of the story. It’s a balancing act, but one that can have major repercussions if handled incorrectly. But no matter your role in the teenager’s life, you can show them that there is another way.
Understand, then be Understood
It’s one of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and it works for the adult-teenage dynamic. How many times has a teen said “You just wouldn’t understand” to an adult? Well, in most cases adults don’t understand the teenage lifestyle and vice versa, so try to really put yourself in their shoes. If a teenager is having girl trouble, then remember what your first crush was like.
You were probably overthinking things and were flustered too, and once you recognize that, you can better understand where the teen is coming from. If you just try to shove your answers onto a teen, it won’t work as well as you think.
One of the best ways to understand a problem is through repetition, so if your teenager talks about girl trouble, you could try to repeat what they say. Let the teen draw his/her own conclusion.
Another problem most parents have with teens is those well-meaning ways of helping often turn into fights. Emotions can be a good tool to use when solving a problem, but helping troubled youth isn’t purely an emotional effort. It’s important to stop when you sense the conversation turning into a fight, and walk away to get a cool head.
If you make a mistake or say something you don’t mean, then apologize. Teens don’t have all the answers, but it’s important to show them that adults don’t either. If you show them that you make mistakes, then they’ll be more willing to admit theirs.
A Different Perspective
We all know the phrase make a mountain out of a molehill, but often we think about it by overreacting. To an ant, that molehill might as well be a mountain, because that’s how they perceive it. A human could walk over and kick that molehill over because their perspective sees it differently.
For a teenager, having a crush ignore them or having to wear a “Tacky” outfit can be a big mountain they have to struggle with. Even though you see it as a molehill, get down on the ground with them and treat the problem like it’s a mountain.
Then help your teen climb it because if it matters to the teen it is important to them.