by: Christina Botto
During adolescence teenagers are trying to establish their identity and form their own opinions. As they pull away from their parents, defying them is the first step on their road to independence.
Parents usually get very frustrated when they realize that their teenager does not listen to them anymore. Instinctively, parents’ first reaction is to look for ways to regain control and to get their teen to obey them again.
Why trying to control your teenager doesn’t work
Being controlling works on small children, because they have no problem following your rules, and they don’t question your motives (Authoritarian parenting style).
Teens, however, begin to question your motives, and strive for independence, input, and freedom.
So you may try to regain control by forcing your teen to follow strict rules, punish failure to follow these rules, and don’t give your teen choices or options.
Your teen will rebel against your controlling parenting style by:
- Avoiding you
- Lying to you
- Becoming withdrawn
- Losing interest in schoolwork
- Consider running away from home
In addition, your teenager will:
- Have low self-esteem
- Become very angry fast
- Display more aggressive behavior outside the home (bullying)
- Draw you into long, heated arguments
- Count the days until he is 18 and out of the house - and away from you.
Once parents realize that they no longer can control their teen’s every move and are tired of constantly arguing with their teenager, they look for advice on how to build a better, more respectful relationship with their teenager child.
Authoritative Parenting – Being in Control without being controlling
Why does the authoritative parenting style work so well when dealing with teen behavior? Because it is the perfect balance between two values – freedom and responsibility.
Authoritative parents will:
- Listen to their teens
- Encourage independence
- Place limits, consequences, and expectations on their teen’s behavior
- Allow their teen to express opinions
- Encourage their child to discuss options
- Administer fair and constant discipline
- Are responsive to their teen’s emotional needs
Authoritative parents want their teen to utilize reasoning and be independent, and they have high expectations for their child. Authoritative parents are also flexible, will allow their teen to explain what happened, and adjust their response accordingly.
Authoritative parents are willing to listen to the adolescent child’s input. If the teen wants to have more freedom and more control over his or her life, parents are open to giving their son or daughter a chance to prove that they can handle it.
Authoritative parenting opens the lines of communication, eliminates arguments, and stops the constant push and pull of dominance vs. independence.
So how do you change the way you interact with your teenage child? You’d like to give them space, but are wondering how much – and where to draw the line.
Give your teen the chance to prove that he can handle certain situations. At the same time, make it clear that you are ready and available if he needs help.
Involving your teen in decisions does not take away a parent's power. Rather, it shows your teen that you accept him as an individual and are ready to give him a chance to prove himself.
Let your teen know that he or she can have more freedom once they show you that they are responsible. To find out what your teen is capable of right now, give them a chance to handle certain matters that affect their daily lives.
- Allow them to decide what clothes to buy or wear
- When to do their homework
- When to do their chores
- When to go to bed at night and not be tired the next day
- When to get up in the morning and be ready on time
These are quite simple routines and I know that you probably had many arguments about some of these.
Instead of arguing with your teen about things, monitor what happens.
Your teen may do surprisingly well. If not, you have inarguable proof that your teen is not capable of making these decisions – yet.
Assign tasks, but step back and let your teen handle the details. There is a very good chance your teen will do the task differently than you would. For some parents it won’t be easy to let the teen try it a different way when you know what works, but allow your teen to experiment.
You may discover that your teen is capable of making right choices and good decisions on their own – based on the principles you’ve already instilled in them.
On the other hand, you may discover that your teen lacks the confidence or ability to make decisions. He may not be able to resist peer pressure, or choose friends you are not so sure he should hang with.
How to improve your teen’s decision making skills
To improve your teen’s decision-making skills, point out what and where your son or daughter went wrong and how to better handle this particular situation the next time.
Stick to discussing what went wrong; teach your child how to gather information, analyze facts and situations, and how to look past the obvious.
Because authoritative parents allow their teens to act independently, teens learn that they are capable of accomplishing things on their own. It also helps them to foster strong self-esteem, self-confidence, and most of all – respect for you and your advice.
The book thus far has been very validating. As I read each chapter I find myself thinking yeah my son says that or does that. It really helps put things in perspective. The tips to improve the relationships between parent and child are very logical and easy to apply. –Melissa Hendrickson, Sedro Woolley, WA
While reading this book, I felt that the real stories the author shared helped me in realizing I'm not alone and that so many other parents were dealing with the same thing. The book helped me in approaching problems with my daughter in a different way. –Mary Faett, reston, va
I hope you all can get this email to Christina. I am the father of a 16 year old son. Last night he and I had an episode. I went to the net, looking for articles on parenting angry teenagers. I saw a short article on Christina's book and bought it in a matter of seconds. I read most of it last night. It's as though she was describing me and my son. Her book is fantastic. Thank you for the insight, Christina. –Clifford Williams,Baton Rouge, LA
Christina has been such a help to me raising my son. He and I now have clearly defined roles and boundaries, and we are closer than ever. Thank you Christina for your advice, your patience, and your grace. –Timothy Ready, ocala, fl
Botto's book helped me understand my son better. Instead of getting angry at him, I now meet him with love and compassion. Our relationship is improving every day. I feel that I am a much better dad to my son by giving him the support he needs. I recommend this book to any parent of a teen. –anthony cardez, raleigh, nc