I just wanted to write a post about new teenagers because they are very misunderstood by parents sometimes. I hear a lot of parents complaining about their kids’ ‘attitude’. The attitude can be from hormones or things going on that your kid doesn’t want to share with you, or lack of sleep (this is VERY common in kids these days).
However, it is imperative that you keep in mind they are your child and they still need you. They still need your love, acceptance and approval. As kids get older, of course they start to want to make some more of their own decisions, they will test boundaries and want to spend much more time with friends than with family.
Your kids will make mistakes, some big ones some little ones. It is all part of growing. Often at this age they make a LOT of mistakes. They have so many new things, and feelings, and friends, and experiences to learn about. Their brains are still growing and they are experimenting with so many things.
It is really easy to get caught in the role of “corrector”. Constantly observing what your child is doing wrong and pointing out what is right, or what they ‘should’ be doing. All kids are different and have different interests and different things that inspire them. One thing that inspires EVERY child though, is love and approval. Even if they do something inappropriate, you can call out the behavior, but you do not need to label your kid. Chances are, your kid is not a bad kid, they have just been exploring and have made a choice that wasn’t the best one.
It is okay to guide, correct, teach, and instill a knowledge of consequences with kids. It is important that you also let your kid know that you are proud of them. Nothing lights up my son’s face more than when I tell him I am proud of him, whether it is for something specific or just a general statement. There are so many things to be done, so many things to learn, so many stressors in a kids life, they just need to know that they are loved and appreciated for their part in your life.
Nothing wrong with giving your kid chores to do, but do you thank them after it is done? Do you ever tell them they did a good job and that you appreciate their contribution to the family/home? I hear from people all the time how they feel so unappreciated (by their spouse, kids, boss…), yet these same people often do not dish out the appreciation either. You DO get what you give. Catch your kid doing something wonderful and THANK THEM!!!
I see way too many parents that complain that their son/daughter is getting distant, but yet they do not realize that they are also creating distance with their kids.
Your kid wants to spend hours and hours with their friends, or sometimes even 36 hours or a weekend straight ~ away from you. YOUR KID STILL NEEDS YOU. Just because your kid is stretching their wings, does not mean that you don’t need to be there for them. Even if they ditch you for their friends they still want and need you to be available for them if something happens. This can feel like being ‘used’ by some parents, but your child is not ‘using’ you, your child is still a child and NEEDS you to be there.
I have many adult clients that still seek the approval of their parents after they have their own grown up family. Imagine how much your child needs your approval NOW.
Some of you may pick your child up from school (or wait until after school or work), and start talking to your child. Sometimes you talk about all the things your kid has to do (as far as chores or homework), sometimes you feel overwhelmed, and you share all YOU have to do with your child.
Do you ask your kid how his/her day was? If so, do you actually LISTEN to the answer with 100% of your attention? Or do you just ask and then go about doing something else? There is nothing that can disempower or hurt a kid more, than to think that a parent doesn’t really care what’s going on in their life. Parents complain that their kids don’t tell them anything, but often when parents do not sit and really LISTEN, with undivided attention kids stop talking.
Do you complain that your kid doesn’t listen to you? Kids learn by example. What you DO, not what you SAY. If they see you looking at your phone after you have asked them a question, why wouldn’t they look at their phone when you are talking to them? Because of how their brains are wired at this age, it is hard enough for them to listen to you and focus on what you are saying (this is a normal part of brain functioning). Try and teach them to focus by being fully present, and be cognizant of what you are doing yourself.
Please be AWARE of what your kid is trying to tell you. Either by what they say, what they do, or what they DON’T say or do. There will always be SOME distance between parents and teens as teens learn to be away from the parents, but the separation does NOT need to turn into a chasm. YOU are the ADULT. Start acting like it, and pay attention, and be there for your kid(s). Too many parents say “what about me?” Yes, you need to take care of yourself, but you took on the responsibility of being a parent, and your kids come first.