I’ve been doing this parenting teen thing now for six years. I am no expert. There is no such thing. Every teen is different. My two boys are so opposite I am convinced they are a different species. How I parented one was completely opposite of how I parented the other as a teen. They, for sure, tried to kill me. But I survived. The key? Finding your sanity and trying to stay calm. Below are ten tips that will help you get through this, no matter what species your teen is.
1. Rate their eye rolls in your head. I have been doing this for years. Eye rolls are a teenage staple. It’s only slightly better than what they want to say out loud to you, but trust me…IT’S BETTER. So to make it entertaining, give each eye roll a rating from 1 – 10. You will find calm instead of rage when they roll their eyes and slam their doors in your face when you stop to think, “Hmmmm that was a pretty good one, I’ll give that an 8.25.” It’s a power thing. The don’t know it, but you just won.
2. Take a timeout when things start to get heated. Don’t just walk off. Explain to them that you need to walk away and calm down for a few minutes because you love them and you want to speak to them in a way that makes them feel loved. Then go to your room, throw pillows at the wall, count to 10 or 300 and then return with a calm voice and a calm heart. You may need to do this several times during a single conversation.
3. When they say something that makes you want to say what my dad used to say to me, “You watch your mouth or you will be picking your teeth up off the floor.” Think that in your brain. Then ask yourself, Is this them or their hormones? Then take a deep breath (or even the above timeout if necessary) and continue calmly assuming it’s the hormones.
4. Have a mantra. “This too shall pass” (It really does I promise). Or…”Someday I will get you back by moving in with your and your family”. Or…”One more time and I am showing up at your school in my pajamas with a megaphone”. Whatever works for you. Have a mantra and go to it when you are about to explode. Note: Don’t say it out loud. Just think it. It’s more powerful if they don’t know about the voices in your head.
5. Have a sense of humor. THIS IS A MUST HAVE for all parents of teens. You won’t make it without one. I assure you. Find ways to get to your humor. Try and remember what it was like when you were a teen and behaving the same way they are. Laugh at your teen self as you see it in them. Visualize them as an adult and the two of you are watching their teenselves behaving like an idiot and you are laughing together at the memories. Or? Go to the crazy laugh. Grab a glass of wine and sit in your bedroom and laugh and laugh and laugh. This will most likely end up in a much needed cry. That’s ok. Teens do that to us. Cry it out.
6. Don’t act like your teen. You’ve already had your opportunity to behave like them. Now you have to be the adult. When the arguments begin it is your job to behave like a calm rational adult who refuses to scream and say things they regret. DO NOT take the bait. You are an adult. Act like one. No matter how hard they make it.
7. Ask before you speak. That old, “You don’t understand me,” thing? It’s real. We don’t. The things going on in a teenager’s brain are long forgotten to us. We are now rational thinkers. We don’t have the hormonal imbalance (though menopause is most likely close). You have no idea what is going on in their brains. You are mad because they acted like an ass at the family dinner but what you don’t realize is that today the girl he really likes was seen holding hands with the captain of the football team. Or one of her best friends was flirting with her boyfriend. Or the pressure of getting good grades is exhausting them and they aren’t sleeping and their panicked about a test on Friday. Ask. Don’t react.
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8. Don’t take it personally. This is a big one and took me a while to get it right. I’m telling you with authority that this is one of the most important things you need to do as the parent of a teen. Don’t take it personally. It isn’t you, it’s them. Remember that and it will make dealing with them so much easier. They don’t mean to hurt your feelings, they just can’t help themselves. You are their safety blanket and sometimes they need to squeeze the life out of that blanket because it’s the only thing they know for sure will not leave them.
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9. Apologize if you lose your temper. It is a good lesson for them. We don’t all act like the perfect images of ourselves all the time. We say and do things we regret just like they do. Apologize for your behavior. It will teach them to do the same. “I’m sorry I think I overreacted a bit there. Can we start over? I promise to keep my calm and hear you this time. I may not agree with you, but I am willing to listen.” Trust me, it goes a LONG way in building a strong relationship.
10. Always remember their heart. They can’t help themselves right now. Remember when you behaved like this? Remember how awful you felt afterwards? They do too. It’s the hormones and the lack of brain capacity. Remember their hearts, not their words.
Stay calm parents of teens. It isn’t easy, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. If your lucky, it’s not a train.
What are your tricks? Share them below in the comments section. We can use all the help we can get!
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