It is like a slow motion scene in a movie. Everything seems to happen so slowly yet there is nothing you can do to prevent what is about to happen. A scornful stare. A shake of the head. Shoulders up as she inhales deeply preparing for the big moment.
Then the words, uttered with a cold blooded snarl – “I Hate You!”
And with that she spins on her heels, exhales loudly, marches out of the room and proceeds to slam every door between you and her ultimate destination. Beneath the echo of stomping feet and slamming doors can be heard whispered mutterings of bitterness concerning the ruining of her life, the lack of justice, and her nomination for the worst parents in the world – you!
Why is it that once smiling, laughing, children who would greet you with squeals of excitement and an embrace as big as their tiny arms could manage, become angry, snarling terrors who now consider you to be an enemy in league with the dark forces of universe? When did this happen?
You may wonder what have you done to warrant such a harsh character assessment and why compliance to your wishes has been replaced with opposition and disdain.
Teenagers are Designed to Oppose You
The good news is it’s not you. Although you are not perfect, it’s unlikely you are the prince of darkness and engaged in a cosmic conspiracy to destroy your adolescent’s life.
The truth is teenagers are designed to oppose their parents. It is their destiny. Your teenager hates because they need to in order to accomplish their ultimate plan – to be an adult.
Most teenagers who say they hate their parents don’t really. At certain moments they feel intense dislike towards you, but this is because at that moment they perceive you as an obstacle or threat to them being who they want to be.
Adolescence is all about teenagers finding their own identity without the childhood dependence on parents. This process of discovery is not easy and involves teenagers pushing up against established boundaries. Their natural quest for autonomy (self rule) drives them to challenge existing sources of authority, namely parents.
Here are some ideas on what to do you do when your teenager starts pushing your buttons.
Just because your teenager feels enraged and is acting out doesn’t mean you have to. Be careful not to take on (or mirror) the emotional state of your teenager. Sure that is easier said than done, but as an adult you are the one more experienced in handling your emotions. When your teen raises their voice consciously choose not raise yours. When your teen makes outrageous accusations consciously choose to state things that are factual and sensible.
Choose To Stay Calm
It is bad enough if your teen is irrational and agitated, things will only get worse if parents start acting the same way. Teenagers are still learning to manage their emotions. Expecting them to stay calm or respond rationally is not really an effective strategy. Adults however are better equipped to manage emotions.
Be aware of how you are responding physically. If your breathing is getting shallow pause and take some deep breathes. If you hear your voice getting louder or you feel like yelling deliberately focus on speaking slowly and quietly. If you can feel your muscles tightening relax your limbs and take a moment before you speak.
If you are feeling like you cannot respond calmly simply state that you will continue the conversation later and walk away. (Make sure you do continue the conversation later).
State What It is You Require
It can be easy to respond to insults or accusations with defensive remarks or accusations of your own. Don’t do this.
When your teen seeks to make a big deal of something you have said simply restate what it is you require, or what your decision is, and the choice your teenager has. As in previous points try to remain calm and state what you need as clearly as possible.
If your teen needs to rant and rave or storm of to their room just let them go. Let them vent. If they have a genuine grievance let them come back when they have cooled off. Establish a pattern of negotiating only when everyone is calm and sensible.
Remember What Is Happening
Perspective is a marvelous thing. One way of dealing with the accusations, tirades, and attitude is to see it for what it is. This is your teenager growing up and wanting to exert their independence. They need to challenge you, but you don’t have to let it become a battle. Their emotions will fade and they will calm down. Learning how to negotiate, state what they want and find compromise are important skills for them to develop.
If you would like more strategies and tips for communicating and managing conflict with your teenager then why not get my eBook “Getting Through“. Its is written to help adults connect effectively with teenagers and contains numerous ideas and strategies for maintaining quality relationships. Best of all its FREE! Just click here to get your copy sent to direct to your inbox.
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