Parenting teens is a very difficult task. It is a time for challenges as teenagers are associated with Eyes pop, Jaws drop, Hearts stop phase. Parents have to be prepared for a large amount of eye-rolling, sudden emotional outbursts and thoughts of running away from home. This is the time when teenagers are trying to build their identities and want more independence to express themselves. They are undergoing both internal and external struggles and have to cope up with hormonal changes, school pressure, parental and societal pressures. Sometimes teenagers are unable to adapt to these pressures so they tend to become angry, rebellious and argumentative. They start showing defiant behaviour.
Defiant Behaviour- deliberately adolescents try to oppose the rules and regulations set for them. They do the opposite of what is desired from them. When they are trying to establish their own identity they feel lost, angry, guilty and confused. They are unable to control their physical, emotional and cognitive changes. This gives rise to defiant behaviour which turns them into porcupines whose quills stand up to attack at the slightest provocation. Earlier dormant issues come to the fore leading to serotonin or happy chemical imbalance and depression. Attention disorder or ADHD, past traumas, family conflicts and repressed sentiments towards family members can suddenly surface.
If teens suffer from chronic defiance it is called as Oppositional Defiant Disorder or ODD. The defiance can be in the form of lying, violent or destructive behaviour, stealing, bullying, breaking rules, cruelty towards people or animals or self-harm. This kind of behaviour may require some professional help to help them sail through life with ease.
Now let us see as parents how these problems can be solved-
Privileges for good behaviour- if teens behave well they should be rewarded with allowing them more time with friends, letting them use gadgets, driving, clothes, letting them gorge on some junk food and increasing their pocket money. They should be told if they do not show a defiant attitude they would be rewarded well but if they misbehave all privileges would be stopped.
Avoid nagging- parents should stop nagging their teenaged children by telling them to follow orders. Just telling them once to follow certain rules should be sufficient. If the rules are not complied with then dire consequences would follow. That should be sufficient warning for a teenager to follow household rules.
Praise good behaviour- compliment teenagers for doing a job well, encouragement would be the best strategy to control defiant behaviour. Berating a teenager all the time can have a negative impact, being polite and encouraging can get rid of defiance.
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Teach problem solving– parents should be friends, philosophers and guides to their teenagers. They should guide them to solve their problems. Sometimes defiance is a result of an underlying problem. Parents should be able to find a strategy to address such problems.
Focus on good behaviour and stay calm– parents should be focussed on the type of behaviour they expect from their teen. Try to put good behaviour in your own day to day affairs by being respectful to spouse, staff, boss etc. Children tend to emulate their parents and can learn from a parent’s good behaviour. Even if they show resent and spiteful behaviour keep calm. Do not participate in a shouting match with your teenager. Sometimes the silent treatment can do wonders and defiance can be controlled.
Respect their privacy and decisions-giving a patient ear to a teenager can raise his self-esteem and build his self-confidence. A parent who gives breathing space to a teenager and respects his need for privacy will be able to do a good parenting job.
Trust and acceptance- trust is the foundation for a strong relationship. Parents shouldn’t doubt or spy on the child, just build their trust so that they can share a happy camaraderie with the child
Communication-. Talking to a teenager openly can help them become sensible and mature individuals. Parents who communicate well with their teens can easily talk to them about drugs, relationships, alcohol and tell them the consequences of experimenting with such things at a tender age. Approach a child with empathy and love.
Parents should change their parenting approach, don’t teach, preach or judge a teenager all the time. Just give the teens roots and wings to prevent this defiant behaviour.