Understanding Teenage Attitude

June 11, 2011 by Dennis Berry  
Published in Family

As a parent of five teenage daughters I find that teenage attitude is a neverending battle. Understanding why they display attitude and how to deal with it will help you keep your sanity.

As any parent of a teenager will tell you, it can be tough. The almost constant, daily disrespect and attitude  is often enough to send your screaming away. But do you know or understand why your teen behaves the way she does? Below is some of the most common reasons for teenage attitude.

1. They copy what they see.

Often we don’t realize that we are actually teaching our teenager how to act. We don’t understand that when they see us act a certain way, they things it’s okay and learn to mimic our behavior. Stop and take a look at the way you react to situations. Do you get angry or upset? Loud or violent? If so, then your teen is probably simply acting the way they see you act.

As a parent it is our duty to act the way we want our children to act. We must set an example by acting calmly and rationally in all situations. When in the middle of a heated argument with your teen, remember to stop, take a deep breath and remember that how you react in this situation will reinforce the same type of behavior in your teen.

2. They have been spoiled.

It often starts out as a baby or very young child. Since it is in a child’s nature to push the boundaries to see how much they can get away with, we often are somewhat lax in defining those boundaries. This quickly turns into a habit, which in turn becomes the norm. Once that happens, the boundaries become even more unclear, and the child begins to push more and more. The next thing you know, there are very few boundaries, and those that do exist are not enforced.

While a teen does need to be free to express themselves, they must have those boundaries in place. Not only to protect them, but also to teach them how to grow into an adult. Without those boundaries your teen will have no discipline, and will quickly become unruly.

However, boundaries alone will not solve the problem. You can make all the rules you want, but if you don’t enforce them they are meaningless. You must make your teen understand that every single time they break a rule or cross a line, there will be a consequence. You can not be lax on this point. If you fail to follow through, they will learn that the rules can be broken without fear of punishment.

3. Mental problems.

Often overlooked is the possibility that the child may be suffering from some sort of mental illness such as clinical depression or a chemical imbalance of some sort. There are a myriad of possible medical reasons why a child may act out. If your teen continuously acts out and nothing seems to be working, make an appointment with their doctor to rule out a medical problem. If the doctor does find that she suffers from a mental problem, often medication can be prescribed.

4. Emotional pain.

Let’s face it. Teenagers don’t always tell their parents everything. Often they tell us nothing at all. Your child may be having a rough time at school, possibly due to bullying or abuse. In a situation like that the teen may not feel comfortable bringing it to your attention, especially if they have been threatened.

The easiest way to find out it by making an appointment with her school counselor. Let the counselor know that your teen is displaying a lot of unwanted behavior and ask if they can enlighten you about any possible problems at school.

5. Too much criticism.

Sometimes as parents we don’t necessarily see what we do to our children. We may think that we are showing them tremendous amounts of love and affection, but in reality we may not be showing them the love they need. Or it may be that we are, but the teen just isn’t seeing it.

Everyone needs praise, and teenagers are no exception. In fact, teens may need it more than the rest of us. Your teen is in the process of growing into adulthood, and as such may be unsure of herself. She needs plenty of positive feedback and praise. Let her know that you appreciate her, that you respect her, and above all make sure she understands that you are proud of her. Teenagers need to know that you see them as an almost-adult, not just as a child.

Pay attention to the things you say to your teen. While constructive criticism is sometimes needed, make sure you praise them much more than you criticize them.

6. Feeling unloved.

When a teen doesn’t get her way she will often scream out something along the lines of “you don’t love me.” We have all been there. And when it comes down to it we know that they don’t mean it. Even though it hurts, we must realize that they are simply reacting.

They may feel that you don’t love them because you are constantly “on their case”. It’s not that they honestly feel that way, rather that they don’t necessarily understand why you do the things you do. You can help alleviate these feelings by reinforcing your love for them often. Make sure and tell them how much you love them every single day. Never let a day pass without telling them.

Also explain, and make sure they understand, that when you punish them for a misdeed it doesn’t mean that you don’t love them. In fact, the reason they get punished is because you do love them. You want to see them succeed in everything they do, and you want to make sure that they don’t make the same mistakes you made.

Above all, never give up on your teen. As a parent of a teen I have often felt like throwing my hands in the air and giving up. But we simply have to remind ourselves that while the teenager years may seem long and hard, they will soon pass and it will get better. Once your teen reaches adulthood she will come to understand why you did the things you did, and she will love you and respect you for it.

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One Response to “Understanding Teenage Attitude”
  1. Mary Says:

    very informative. Mom

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