Don’t Take it Personally
Your child is the most important person in the world to you. Being a parent is as personal as personal gets.
So how is it possible to not take your teen’s acting out personally? As a reflection of your parenting skills, or supposed lack thereof? Because, challenging as it is, learning the skill of detachment is vital to your teen’s growth and your own.
Keep the focus where it belongs
This is about your teen; it is not about you. Adolescence is a turbulent time full of confusion, fears and slow adaptation. It’s easy and natural for a parent to forget that when a teen acts out it isn’t a referendum on them. First and foremost, before you yourself indulge in some over-the-top behavior, keep this in mind: This is about my kid, not about me. Repeat it silently to yourself, like a mantra if necessary. Because when she leaves her room a wreck, throws a tantrum, gets silent and sullen, or slacks on homework, that fact is going to be easy to forget.
Avoid inflammatory words
Ever had the desire to up your rhetoric to match your emotional state? Of course. We all have; it’s the natural inclination. But avoid it. Throwing around demands, threats and absolutes will do three things 1) Scare or 2) anger you child, and 3) heighten your own poor response potential. Before you know it, you’re likely to be speaking out of anger and resentment and any points you have to make will likely be lost. A net zero for everyone involved.
Instead, underplay. Breathe. Calm your voice. Speak firmly but gently. This will keep your emotions in check and promote a more positive dialogue. By no means does this mean you need to play the pushover: rules are rules. But by maintaining a placid and consistent demeanor you reinforce the entire core principle: You Are the Adult in The Room.
Frustration tends to induce paralysis. Flailing and gnashing of teeth, and not much else. Counteract this by accenting productivity.
Give your child projects, preferably ones you can do together. Schedule a sit-down with her over her recent attitude, a firm time to talk (and to hear her out). If
academics are the issue, set strict guidelines over how much time is to be spent on homework a night.
Make it concrete. And make it stick. Generally, teens are nothing if not erratic; give them the structure needed and they have a real chance to thrive. And it is a method whereby you are imparting the tools needed to do so, rather than emphasizing your own insecurities and fears. Coherent action is better for both of you.
Teens are probably going to challenge any plan you put in place — and that’s OK. It gives you the opportunity to keep practicing at it. Remember that this is a marathon, and by not falling into the trap of taking your adolescent’s angst and issues personally, you are preparing them for success.