Parenting tweens and teens involves a bittersweet and sometimes difficult mixture of emotions. It’s rewarding to watch your children gain independence. It’s exciting to see them grow into young adults who will venture out into the world and make positive differences in the lives of others.
But most teens don’t arrive at these destinations without some behavioral hiccups along the way. These include disrespect, sneakiness, manipulating household rules, negative attitudes, and rebellion.
It’s normal to sense that you’ve lost control when your children’s behavior turns rebellious. But there are methods you can employ if your quarrelsome young adults start giving you grief.
Here are five strategies to help correct rebellious behavior so you can enjoy time spent with your kids again:
- Find the “why?” behind the behavior.
Parents may be surprised when their easygoing, pleasant-tempered children change personalities seemingly overnight. It may start with flip backtalk when you ask your teenage son to get his soccer gear out of the hallway before somebody trips over it, or when your once-responsible tween daughter decides she’s not going to walk the dog before she starts her homework, if she even does her homework anymore.
It’s time to figure out what’s really going on.
Parents know their children better than anybody else. If you notice new behaviors that don’t reflect the personality you’re accustomed to seeing, investigate to discern what may actually be going on. It may be something as simple as the crush your son has on a girl in math class, or the mean girls that are bullying your daughter at lunchtime.
It’s normal for teens to test authority when they want to explore their independence and free themselves from their parent’s constant supervision. To complicate the matter, teens’ brains are still growing and forming, which can contribute to emotional instability.
Tuning in to why your child bucking the rules in your family gives you a better starting point to correct the negative behavior.
- Reevaluate your discipline and rules.
If you’ve always had rules in your family regarding homework expectations, curfews, and disrespect, your boundaries have been established. But if you’ve been inconsistent with household rules, it’s time to figure out what’s acceptable and what’s not, and stick to it.
Even if you’ve had rules in place, now is a good time to reevaluate them. You may need to adjust your expectations to accommodate the new stage your kids are entering, or establish different guidelines moving forward.
Be sure to make these clear to your children. Don’t get upset and threaten to establish harsh new rules in the heat of the moment because your child brought home a failing report card or called you a disrespectful name because you won’t fold his laundry. Call a family meeting for later, after everybody calms down, and discuss the new expectations then.
If you set rules, make sure you enforce them consistently. Honestly, when it comes to parenting, consistency is at least half the battle!
Finally, include your tweens and teens when creating solutions for consistently rebellious situations. This is a win all around, because when rebellious actions take place, you’ll be enforcing consequences that your kids agreed earlier was fair.
- Be patient.
Patience is a virtue. This is especially true when it comes to parenting! We live in a culture of instant gratification. When faced with difficulties in our home lives, we naturally want the problems to just disappear immediately. Unfortunately, correcting a disturbing or bad behavior takes time, so you must be patient.
Like any other habit, you need to consistently work on it to make it a part of your daily routine. It may help you to find a mantra to recite when you feel yourself losing your patience, such as “move forward positively.” Adapting a regular protocol to encourage patience is a winning strategy. It will help you deal calmly with potentially explosive situations, and it will show your children that you refuse to fight fire with fire by reacting with a hot head.
- Give your child some control.
Giving your children a sense of control allows them to explore their independence in a positive way. Children often intentionally push their parents’ buttons. They know their parents will respond by fighting back or yelling. This response essentially allows them to win, because they know they’ll get a rise out of you. Giving them options and choices, giving them some control in a situation shows your children that you appreciate and value their opinions. This gives you much higher odds of receiving cooperation.
It is possible for rebellious children to become cooperative. It’s rooted in what parents do to achieve that cooperation. Often, actual choices aren’t as important as the child’s perception of choices, so it doesn’t matter if the child has an actual choice or not. What matters is that their perception of choices will increase their cooperation levels.
- Accentuate the positive.
Many parents notice negatives and on the things that need correcting in their children’s lives, rather than the things that they’re doing right. When your kids act out and rebel, it’s definitely easier to focus on their bad behaviors, overlooking things that are going well.
Focus on the positives. Offer encouragement when your kids exhibit good behaviors, no matter how minor that thing may be. If you observe them doing a good deed, don’t wait. Praise their desirable actions.
As you navigate through your kids’ difficult, rebellious, and defiant behaviors, remember that there are things your children are doing right. Discovering the positives and reinforcing those actions with praise, it helps discourage and eventually eliminate the rough, rebellious behaviors.