I’ve Got A Teenager… Get Me Out Of Here!

15th April 2011

Adolescence is demanding, challenging, emotional and hormonal. And that’s just for the parents. Exams on the horizon make it even worse.

Roshni Shah, Youth & Parent Coach, suggests ways to navigate the testing times ahead.

Teenagers (and by this I refer to any young person between the age of 11 and 21) can be unpredictable and explosive at the best of times – but with the approaching exam season, the volatility ratings can increase dramatically, throwing the household into disarray, and forcing everyone to take cover.

It happens to every mum or dad. One day you have a chatty son or daughter with loads of energy who loves hanging out with you. They’ve got so much to say that it’s hard for you to get a word in edgeways. They’re fun. They’re motivated. They’re on an adventure. And you are too.

Then they become a teenager. Overnight. Your whole world – and their bedroom – is turned upside down. They grunt. They’re difficult. They answer back. You dread to think who they’re with and what they’re doing. And they’re certainly not telling you.

You know that being a parent is the most important job you’ll do in your life and you’re doing your best. But the challenges just keep coming thick and fast. They’re pushing you to the limit. You begin to feel that family life is spinning out of control.

You’re not alone.

A recent survey, conducted by The Parent Coaching Academy, concluded that nine out of ten parents of teenagers felt that they were ‘failing’ as parents, that nine out of ten parents found dealing with teens their most stressful challenge, and that eight out of ten parents said teenage problems were harder to solve than anything they faced at work

Being a teenager is tough; being the parent of a teenager is tougher. Even the strongest family relationships can feel the strain.

You need to find a way of moving out of this negative feedback loop and into a more constructive, balanced relationship. Shouting and/or wishful thinking aren’t going to cut it – so what can parents do?

Youth and/or Parent Coaching can help by offering practical tools, tips and techniques to reduce your stress levels and those of your teenager – but there are plenty of things to try at home before you take this route.

Here are six key elements of a strategy that should help you deal effectively with teenage tantrums (and your own), keep control in challenging situations and create boundaries that work for everyone.

• Attitude –

Approach a problem with a WIN/WIN attitude to find a solution that meets everyone’s needs. This fosters mutual respect and ensures total commitment from all who are involved.

• Goals –

Discuss what the goal should be… what outcome would solve the problem? Make sure it is realistic and achievable.

• Options –

Consider as many different ways as possible of achieving that goal. If people are not given a choice (however limited) they feel disempowered. Give them a choice and they immediately learn to evaluate and identify the pros and cons of each option and they learn to deal with the consequences.

• Proactivity –

Be proactive, not reactive. We can’t influence or change the behaviour of others. We can only change our response to their behaviour. So the next time you see a difficult situation developing, take a moment to understand before you try to be understood. In other words listen first and then talk.

• Priorities –

Prioritising is a skill learned through experience. Don’t expect young people to be born with it! Help them by encouraging weekly planning, rather than daily planning, for example. Identify all the major issues for the forthcoming week (study for the Chemistry test, finish History assignment, attend Natasha’s party, finish first half of reading book). Block out time for these issues, and then plan everything else around it. Simple!

• Independence vs Interdependence –

Encourage your teenager to be independent but to work as if in a team. More will be achieved by two or more people working together to find a solution to a problem then either one working alone…

…that’s you, parents and teens!!

For more info about youth & parent coaching go to www.help4learning.com

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