Has your relationship with your adolescent child hit a new low?
Do you dread the rows, the rudeness and opposition to doing anything other than video games and social media?
Now a ground-breaking new book reveals the quick fixes you can use in every situation to get better behavior from your teen – in just a few days.
What’s my Teenager Thinking? Practical Child Psychology for Modern Parents by Tanith Carey and Harvard-trained psychologist Dr Carl Pickhardt analyzes over 100 everyday situations that most parents will face when your child hits puberty.
It then translates the science fast and offers the best ways to respond – in clear, simple steps.
‘If you have a sulky, disobedient teenager in your home, you may be at a loss at how to turn your relationship around, especially if it’s been a tough few months in lockdown,’ child-behavior guru Carey explained.
‘But even if all they are doing is grunting at you, there are ways you can rebuild your relationship and get a more cooperative child – by this weekend.’
Here, Carey and Dr Pickhardt reveal six science-backed parenting tricks that will help to improve a teen’s behavior in a matter of days.
Parenting 101: Two child-behavior experts have revealed six simple tips for parents who are struggling to cope with badly-behaved teenagers (stock image)
Stop taking it personally
As frustrating as they can be, teenagers act as they do for good reason. Most of the behavior adults find challenging has both an upside – and an evolutionary purpose.
Just remember that in the same way as your child first learned to sit up, crawl and then walk, teens go through the same sorts of stages in their progress towards independence – only it’s happening inside their brains where you can’t see it and doesn’t look as cute.
For example, teens are more challenging to your authority because it’s part of the process of breaking away from your family and finding a tribe of their own. However annoying they are this week, keep in mind that the goal of the teen years is not to make it difficult for you but for your child to become an independent adult with the skills to make their way in the world alone.
Count to ten
Parenting a teen is a transaction, so it’s key that you stay calm. So if your teen yells at you this week, it’s because their brain is in primal ‘fight-or-flight’ mode. If you shout back, it’s the equivalent of pouring oil on the flames.
Instead, next time your kid loses it with you over the next few days, count to ten, breath, and tell them in a calm, measured way you’ll be happy to chat once your exchange turns back into a conversation.
Hug for 20 seconds
As our kids get older we tend to cuddle them less, but they still crave human touch. Scientists have found that hugging for just twenty seconds is enough to boost levels of the feel-good hormone oxytocin and counteract the corrosive effects of cortisol, which is a feature of our teens’ increasingly pressured lives.
As long as they are comfortable with it, offer them a daily hug and you will get the benefits by the weekend..
Put them in charge for a day
If your teen is resistant or rude, your first instinct is probably to come down harder on them, not let them do what they want.
Guide: Child-behavior guru Tanith Carey and psychologist Dr. Carl Pickhardt have penned a new book entitled What’s My Teenager Thinking? Practical Child Psychology, which examines 100 different milestone moments that many parents face
But if your relationship has broken down with your teen, it’s likely partly because they are protecting themselves from your criticism and disapproval. To get a better behaved kid by the weekend, you will have to take clear and deliberate steps to reset the relationship.
Try a technique called ‘love-bombing’. Pick a day this week and tell them you’d like to spend it with them.
As long as it does not involve spending money, tell your teen, they have complete choice over what you do together because you simply want to enjoy their company.
Then put away your phone, don’t slip in any teachable moments – and just ‘be’ together.
This will help stabilize the levels of the fight–flight hormone cortisol your teen has around you, which will make them less reactive and likely to fly off the handle.
Check your expression
You mind could be completely elsewhere when your teen comes into the room. But even if you have a neural expression on your face when you teen speak to you, they could well accuse you of being ‘weird’ or assume you are unhappy with them for some reason. This is because research shows that teens tend to interpret even blank facial expressions as disapproving.
So as hard as it may be, this week try to smile more. It will help improve the conversations you will have.
Say three little words
By the time your child has hit their teenage years, they have lived a life of learning your values, and observing what is socially acceptable both at home and at school. When parents keep telling teens what to do – usually things they know already – they are more likely to do the opposite – just to assert their independence.
In the coming days, trust them to work out for themselves what to do and when they have a decision to make, tell them: ‘It’s your choice.’
They will not only rise to the challenge, but the lessons they work out for themselves will be far more valuable.
What’s my Teenager Thinking? Practical Child Psychology for Modern Parents by Tanith Carey and Dr Carl Pickhardt is available now for $16.99