It’s well known that the teen years can be a trying time for parenting. It may feel like their rebellion is a personal attack and that they are determined to make your home life miserable, but in reality, this is a natural process. Your teenager is maturing both physically and emotionally, and while they may look like an adult by this stage, their brain is still developing. When their frontal cortex develops in a few years, their brain development will finally match their bodies and you may feel like you are dealing with a different person. Until that time, here are some tips for talking to your angry teen.
Change Your Parenting Style
If you have an authoritarian parenting style, “My way or the highway,” you’ll benefit from switching styles. An authoritarian method of parenting will cause you to butt heads with your teen, resulting in increased anger and chronic fighting. If you can switch your style to an authoritative style, you will get better reactions. An authoritative parent deals with their child in a manner that takes in to account their development stage and circumstances. That means explaining your reasoning, giving consequences that take your child’s feelings and circumstances into consideration, and overall putting the relationship with your child first. Not that your responses will make them happy all of the time, but they should know that you are acting with love and to teach them something important.
Frame the Conversation
When it’s time to have a conversation with your teen, first frame the conversation so they know that while you might be displeased with their choices, you are not rejecting or hating them as a person. If you come at your teen with anger, they are more likely to get defensive or shut down. Since their frontal cortex isn’t finished developing, they’re unable to fully control their emotions or foresee the consequences of their behavior. This can make teens highly reactive and appear irrationally angry. To avoid this, let them know that you are irritated, disappointed, or upset with their choices or behaviors, but that you’re not angry with them as a person.
Overall, it’s important to keep lines of communication open with your teen. You can turn anger into dialogue by simply making an effort to listen to and understand your teen. Use reflection to ensure that you heard them and understand their feelings. “What I heard you saying is…” Trying to give advice or enforce rules can break communication down when you need it to stay open.
Your teen is trying to figure out their identity as they go through many hormonal, growth and development changes that are out of their control. Try to understand that their anger is about asserting themselves or trying to separate themselves as an individual. This is a difficult time, and your teen needs empathy. Stay your child’s safe and secure base, so you can help them through it.
If you’re a parent having a difficult time with a teenager, a Psychologist or therapist can be a great resource for parenting support or to help your teen through this challenging time. Contact me today if you would like to set up a free consultation.