By, Martina Watson, LPC
So, one or more of your children have finally been infected with it! No, it’s not the Coronavirus. It’s adolescence. I don’t know what sends parents yelling for the hills more—the Terrible Twos or the Teenage years. Both are a fright. To me, there is nothing more frustrating than either an angry toddler or a teenager with an attitude. The teenage years should more aptly be called “The Wonder Years,” and not because of that old television show with Fred Savage. It should be called “The Wonder Years” because many parents who come to see me wonder why they haven’t yet banished their child to a faraway place called their bedrooms forever due to all of the eye-rolling, scowls, and shoulder shrugging when they’re asking simple questions or trying to find out important information like “how was your day dear?”
because many parents who come to see me wonder how they haven’t lost their mind yet due to all of the eye-rolling, scowls, and shoulder shrugging when they’re asking simple questions or trying to find out important information like “how was your day dear?”
Nevertheless, the behavior that parents hate the most is “the ‘tude.” You know the one that communicates how dumb, old-fashioned, antiquated, and a pain in the rear you are. Yes, that one. It is the most unwelcome attribute of all the other infuriating behaviors. It is also the one that so many parents complain about the most. However, fear not! I have developed four excellent responses to navigate such rough waters in working closely with countless families over the years as a Licensed Professional Counselor. Which one you decide to do will depend on the situation, the existing attachment or bond with your child, your child’s personality, and your mood at the time. If you find that you’re already angry about something that has nothing to do with your teen, then spend some time with yourself, and resolve your issues. If you find that you’re already angry with your teen, find a way to calm down and resolve any preexisting issues with your child at a later date and time when you aren’t overcome with emotions. The following, though, are five possible remedies to disable your child’s attitude.
Inquire: Be direct and ask, “Hey, what’s with the attitude? Is there something wrong?” Asking shows that you care, and it allows your child to tell you about issues that may be bothering him or her. Be prepared to suspend judgment for a time. Refrain from advice-giving unless they ask. Make sure you’re listening rather than waiting for your child to finish so that you can tell them what they should have done. Utilizing the above parenting skills will help you and your child continue to form or deepen your existing bond by connecting you two.
Imitate it: Is your child standing there with hands on their hips or eyes rolled up to the ceiling. Please do the same but do it better. Be the adult version of your teen and show them what they will look like in this stance 20 to 30 years from now. However, do it all with a smile and as animated as you can muster; This is a great way to alert your child to what he or she looks like when they’ve been infected with the “’tude,” it can also be a way to insert plenty of humor too. This method seems to work the best when the parent and child do not share the same gender or sex. It is an excellent way to lighten an agitated mood.
Ignore it: Some days, it’s best to ignore your teen’s attitude; If it’s not disrespectful, inappropriate, or vitriolic to you or any other member of the family, then it’s not worth responding to and wasting several seconds or even minutes of your time. Sometimes it’s better to look past it than to reward undesirable behavior with negative attention.
Discipline: Nevertheless, there are times when it’s better to stop unpleasant behavior in its tracks. By the way, nothing seems to get a teen’s attention faster than a threat to cut them from their societal lifeline, also known as their phone. Just remember that if you reprimand and mention this consequence, the threat will be useless unless you follow through with it. If your child’s attitude is extremely disrespectful, inappropriate, or is adversely directed at you or another family member, then it is time to implement a more stringent form of engagement. That is discipline.
Don’t take it personally: Teens juggle things like education, peer pressure, athletics, hormones, and self-doubt, to name a few. While you may be thinking that these things sound no different from what you have been confronted with as adolescents, nothing could be farther from the truth. Did you have a graduation and a prom when you were a teen? Did you have to worry about Coronavirus as a teen? Just as you are concerned with tasks and difficulties that your child may know nothing about, your teen faces their daily challenges as well. Everyone is fighting a battle. Some are winning, and some are losing. Put yourself in your teen’s shoes and try to extend as much forgiveness as possible, especially given some of the current circumstances that all of us have been forced to live up under within the last year. If you extend forgiveness, grace, mercy, and even some humor toward your teen when they need it the most, your child will also offer it to you in return.