How to Deal with Teens Behavior During Holidays

It would be nice to think that the anger, rudeness, and bad attitudes from your teen would take a break during the most wonderful time of the year. The holidays are often touted as the ideal time for families to come together for happiness, good cheer, and plenty of opportunities to make lovely new memories.

In reality, you could find yourself with a teen who is just as angry and challenging during what should be cheer-filled moments as they are during the rest of the year. This can be upsetting for everyone else in the family.

But what can you do differently now to help your teen keep their behavior in check?

Is it possible to get your teen to better cooperate during the holidays?

Keep expectations realistic for everyone

We all have a picture in our heads about what the holidays should look like. Those big family gatherings, singing carols, shared meals with plenty of laughter and conversation. While that’s great for some families, that might not be the right direction for your family this year. Be kind to yourself and your teen regarding behaviors and expectations about what the holidays should look like.

It may be that this year is the right year for everyone to scale things back. Keep family gatherings smaller and minimize the potential for situations that could trigger behavioral outbursts. You don’t need to have an over-the-top holiday extravaganza every year. If it makes more sense for your family to keep things small and calm, then that’s the direction you should consider.

It could also be worth considering keeping things small and strictly between your core family members. Or you may also consider going out of town with your family. A week in a cottage by the lake could be just what your family needs for a fresh start.

Avoid comparisons

It can be all too easy to compare your family to other families. Doing this can leave you feeling that your family is somehow coming up short. It’s important to remember that it’s a no-win situation when you compare yourself to anyone else, particularly those who seem like they have lives that are more together. It can make us feel anxious and angry.

This, in turn, can lead us to try and force our families to fit into a certain unrealistic image we have in our heads.

Your family may need to put in more work together, but it’s always better to focus on yourself and your family instead of being concerned about what others are doing. Finding ways to avoid the comparison trap and the accompanying anxiety can help you better focus on your family’s needs.

Create a plan for getting together with family

Coming up with a plan can help you to better manage your anxiety about what to expect during holiday family gatherings. Give some thought as to the things you have control over. Speak to your teen before going to the family gathering.

“This is the behavior expected. If you cannot do this, we will leave. Consequences will follow at home.”

Your teen may act out to get his way, so you all leave early. This is why it’s important to remind him of the consequences and follow through on them. If he’s long had disdain for the household rules and consequences, you may need to take a different approach. As much as you may not want to exclude him from family gatherings, it might be an option to have him stay with a friend or neighbor when you go to holiday get-togethers.

Plan the responses if a family member makes snide comments about your teen’s behavior. Well-meaning relatives might try to pass on comments that your teen takes personally, including comments about how he should change his bad behavior. This could potentially trigger your teen into an outburst, whether based on anger or sadness.

Leaving the gathering is an option for your family if it becomes too much for everyone to handle.

Use the holidays in your favor

It’s tempting to want to outright cancel Christmas and all things cheerful. While it’s understandable to feel this level of frustration and anger, it’s not always the best direction to take. Instead of punishing your teen because of their poor behavior, consider using this opportunity to help them work on better behavioral skills.

You may have time off from work, and your teen may be off from school for a few weeks. This time together is an excellent opportunity for you to double down on your efforts to improve your relationship and work on their behavior.

If the holiday season and everything that can accompany it is proving to be too much for you and the other members of your family, take the time to evaluate what is important. Your teen’s behavior may not improve during the holiday season. It may be time to determine whether it’s time to seek professional help to address the behavioral issues your teen has constantly been displaying.

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