Living with teenagers can be pretty challenging a times, but here's our researched (and experienced!) guide to making life a little easier for you parents.
Top tips for living with your teenage son:
Be honest and patient with yourself. Changes won't happen overnight, years of behaviour don't suddenly reverse; but through accepting that the situation is what it is and giving yourself a break (you probably did your best right?), you can then stand at the beginning of a new season for you and your son.
You need to be in a strong place first in order to even start to help him move forwards. Think of it like a cup: if your an empty cup and your son's the cup sitting below you, you need filling up before you can even start to pour good things into his life. Make sure your only tackling things when your in a level headed, calm, positive place - i.e. not when your seeing red and ready to explode: you are guaranteed a negative outcome.
Shouting at him will never, ever lead to a positive outcome. Even if your right (and you probably are!).
Nagging has been proven to usually work (drip feeding you could call it!) but only if it's the gentle, caring way it should be intended and delivered. Make sure you heed tip 2's advice!
It is exhausting sometimes living with a teenage boy - believe me, the constant thinking, strategies and planning are genuinely exhausting. So give yourself a break when you don't feel up to it. Make sure you plan in some rest time on a regular basis without him - it doesn't matter what you do, just make sure you 1) enjoy it 2) it's without him. This is really important for resetting your head and keeping a wide perspective.
Be consistent - and again - be consistent. He will change like the clouds in the sky, but he needs your consistent approach and responses to be like an anchor: fixed securely in the world of stormy seas. Remember what we said about attachment? He needs a secure, positive attachment in order to work out his identity and form himself and his character, behaviours and responses. In time, consistent positive parenting can do wonders for the wildest of teenage boys!
Remember teenagers can act like toddlers sometimes - the heat of the moment stuff - so don't panic or feel like you've raised a complete monster when actually things do go wrong and he lets you down. You need to be the consistent one, not him.
Never use the D word (if you can help it!). Now we don't mean a swear word, but the word "disappointed". Phrases like "I am so disappointed you did that" are loaded with judgment, control and ultimately manipulation. They are a sure fire way to throw bricks back on the foundation of the walls (remember our point earlier?) - severing relationship.
Keep things short and simple: if your looking for a response then ask gently and wait for answers. If he's not speaking or can't give an answer, ask yourself what's the real reason behind that behaviour. Then give him some space, you'll sometimes be surprised how he hasn't forgotten what you said; he'll just be processing it.
Ask yourself "why?" and "What's really behind that?" a lot! Pretty much every time he does something you notice. Here's a couple of examples to show you what we mean:
Why is he ignoring me? Maybe he knows he'll feel bad when he faces up to it, so is trying to avoid feeling the pain of what happened, not necessarily avoiding you. Maybe he just knows that hes not in a good place and able to control his emotions that well in the moment, so he's trying to avoid doing more damage.
Why did he slam the door in my face, but manages to chat happily on his phone to his friends moments later? He might be dealing with complex feelings and an easy way of coping is to limit the things he'll have to think about. If he closes the door to you, he can reduce competing thoughts.
Has something just happened? Arguments, bust up's with partners, or even positive things like getting notice by that girl/guy he likes can all be top of his mind and your in the side wings.
Is he just tired? Yep, we all get cranky, forget things, say the wrong thing and can easy offend when we're not on our A game. Teenagers are no exception (just an amplified version!)
Is he just hungry? This is so true in our experience! Poor behaviour can frequently be attributed to moody teenagers, and thanks to fast working metabolisms and lack of experience of being self aware, they wont even know they are hangry.
You get the point - there are a lot of reasons to his behaviour, anything could be going on. But you might also be able to make the informed guess on the odd occasion - so by having the "Why?" question in the back of your head you'll start to learn a new way of thinking that gives you the advantage of thinking ahead in the relationship.
We hope this has been really helpful, so keep following what we do because we're on a mission to keep helping parents and teenager live side by side in their natural habitats. From shaving advice to mental health tips and shaving kits: we have lots of solutions for parents all across the UK.
If you'd like some further info as well, here's a few services we think are great:
YoungMinds: is a great service that offers practical and emotional support to teenagers directly by providing a listening, supportive ear and to parents through groups and helplines. They are well worth checking out if you want to know a bit more about teenage mental health support.
Health For Teens is a really useful website for teenagers to directly access. It's pretty good at giving lots of advice and provides genuine answers for young people asking genuine questions in it's frank style.
This article was written by James, DRUCEBOX founder and experienced Youth Advocate. James has worked with young people all his life in various faith, public sector and charitable settings. His experience has seen him and his partner foster teenagers, develop community support and work with council's to contribute to beneficial children's services. You can contact James here.