Does it feel like your teenager argues about everything?
This can be extremely frustrating and stressful.
Yet there are several reasons as to why teenagers seem to argue all the time.
During the adolescent years, our children go through many developmental changes.
These changes are often confusing and overwhelming for them.
Understanding how these changes affect your child might help you manage the potential conflict and stress in your home.
Developmental Changes In Teens
Firstly, we must remember that they are experiencing several physical changes.
Both girls and boys are noticing changes in body shape and height as well as the growth of pubic and body hair.
Girls are developing breasts and starting their periods.
Boys are having voice changes, growth in penis and testes, as well as erections and ejaculations for the first time.
On top of this, they may experience pimples and body odor.
These are huge developmental changes that our teens are dealing with.
Along with these physical changes, they are also developing new feelings about their bodies, sexuality, and intimate relationships, which brings about emotional changes as well.
They will be aware and self-conscious about their physical appearance.
Comparing their body with those of friends and peers can affect their self-esteem.
The release of hormones affects teenagers’ moods, emotions, and impulses, as well as their bodies.
The mood swings that teens experience are caused by fluctuations in estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. These hormones can actually change the parts of their brain that involve emotion.
This can make them more emotional than an adult or a child and affects the way they react to things.
Unfortunately, the parts of the brain that help them manage their emotions only develop much later.
So now we’re dealing with teens with intense emotions but without the tools to be able to deal with them.
These strong feelings and intense emotions often manifest as mood swings and lead to increased conflict.
Girls are often moody & sometimes mean, whilst boys can be uncommunicative or angry.
They are still learning how to control these emotions in a mature way and will test their responses on you.
It might start to feels like your teenager argues about everything.
This is why it’s so important that we, as adults, try to control our emotions and manage these situations with our teens.
Remember that you’re the only one in the world that will love them unconditionally.
They might feel confused and uncomfortable in their own bodies, and not sure where they fit in with their peers.
You have to be the constant support that they need right now.
At the same time as these physical and emotional changes are happening, they are also testing their boundaries.
They’re learning how to be an adult.
They’ve started to think differently and are trying to take more control of their lives.
This can be very frustrating, as they don’t have the actual power and independence, and can’t yet enjoy the freedoms of an adult.
We as parents need to change with them.
We can no longer expect them to ‘do as we say’ merely because we’re their parent.
Arguments can start out because they are testing their new ideas or points of view.
But at the same time, they are also testing parental power.
We need to let them know that they are safe within our boundaries.
That they are allowed to push these boundaries, and it is our job to keep these boundaries in place.
They should feel safe in testing and pushing these boundaries, knowing that we will keep them on track.
This is one of the hardest jobs as a parent, as we don’t know how far or when we should let them test, push and fail, whilst keeping them safe.
Tips that can help with a teenager that argues about everything:
You need to have your boundaries in place and discuss this upfront with your teen.
These should already be clear from all the years of parenting up till now, but perhaps your family situation has changed.
Be clear as to what is expected and acceptable behavior.
Set clear family rules about behavior and communication.
Set and use consequences, but focus on the things that really matter.
You need to stick to the rules.
If you agree on a curfew, then you need to implement consequences immediately if this rule is broken.
If you don’t, then they won’t know where the boundaries lie and will keep pushing until we tell them to stop.
But don’t sweat the small stuff.
Really focus on what truly matters.
If you keep ‘nagging’ about every little thing, they won’t respond when you really need them to listen to you.
Focus on the positive rather than the negative.
It’s easy to spot all the things that they do wrong, but this leads to a negative spiral.
Consciously look for things they do right and comment on these.
You don’t need to make a big deal of it.
Just comment and say thank you when they’ve done something positive.
They might not respond, but they do hear it and do remember.
Listen more than you speak.
They don’t always want you to solve their problems.
Just by actively listening to them you show them that you’re present.
A great tip is to ask if they want you to give advice or just listen.
Most often they just want you to listen.
The more you listen, the more signals you can pick up on, as to what is going on in their life.
Realize that your teen is struggling with many things in their day-to-day life.
Therefore don’t take things personally.
Let them know that you are there for them when they need you.
Even when they’re pushing you away, they do need you.
Let Them Practice With You At Home
There is no better place for your teen to experiment with arguing than at home with you.
Here are some things to remember when practicing with your teen:
Take turns talking.
You’ll never accomplish anything if you’re constantly interrupting or shouting to be heard.
Let them finish first.
Allow your teen to finish sharing their story or viewpoint before talking about your own.
Repeat back what you hear.
Repeating back ensures that you’re understanding their meaning while giving them a chance to correct you if you misunderstood.
Share your feelings.
Your goal is to understand their feelings first before explaining your point of view.
As parents, we ultimately want our teens to learn from their mistakes while walking away feeling like they have been heard and understood.
Remember that our purpose is to be there for our kids when they need us most.
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