Anyone that has ever raised a teen will understand that telling him to do something is the best way to make him not want to. Because adolescence is such a valuable time to explore independence, some teens have a difficult time both regulating their own behavior and taking advice from their parents. As a parent, you are still essential to the way your child learns how to interact with the world, but at this point in his life, you must learn how to walk the fine line between encouraging him to make changes and giving him the space and resources to save himself.
There are certain areas you should focus on when picking your battles with your teen. Giving him guidance toward certain skills will help him become a well-rounded adult that can self-regulate and problem solve effectively. These include:
Communication – Positive interaction is an essential skill for a healthy future and it is not uncommon for teens to spend their adolescent years butting heads with parents, peers and authority figures as they learn how to navigate and communicate. It is important to model appropriate behavior when dealing with your son and others. Despite the appearance of ignoring or disregarding everything you do, children are always watching their parents and you are the greatest influence on his style of communication.
Defiance/Anger – The teen years are often volatile, which also makes them an important time to learn how to keep anger within appropriate bounds. Help your teen develop ways that he can channel his aggressive tendencies through some form of self-expression, like sports or art. Behavior modification programs can also help teens learn how to substitute non-violent solutions for day to day problems and concerns.
Responsibility – For teens that find it easier to self-sabotage, responsibility can be intimidating. However, it is one of the number one ways that you can help your son mature. Give him a graduated system of responsibilities connected to a reward and consequences system and be consistent to help him develop positive accountability. The only thing you will teach him by wavering in your discipline is that you can be negotiated with.
Self-Esteem – Self-esteem issues are at the root of many behavioral problems for teens and sometimes, the most you can do is be supportive as he figures out how to cope with the world around him. You can also help him learn to recognize his strengths by encouraging him to participate in a variety of activities that allow him to explore what he is capable of. When he finds something positive that gives him confidence, do what you can to help him develop this skill.
Problem Solving – One of the most valuable tools a teen can gain is how to effectively problem solve. While it is tempting as a parent to jump in a fix thigs for your child, studies have determined that when individuals are allowed to apply their own methods of problem solving, they are more likely to become competent individuals. Let your teen make his own mistakes and learn how to fix them while the stakes are relatively low. When your child is able to become proficient at his own problem solving, he will be better prepared to meet the daily challenges of the future.
For information about our program at Liahona Academy and the ways we can help your troubled teen son, please contact us at 1-800-675-8101.