Much of the teenage behavior that is so distasteful to adults has interesting roots. There can be many causes of misbehavior and just as many solutions.
Some of the most common include:
The human brain, especially in males, is not fully developed until age 21. The last area to develop is the frontal cortex which actually houses the logical reasoning section. This means that when your child says he has no idea why he jumped off the roof or tried to run from a cop, he probably doesn’t. That is, he didn’t think it through and was most likely somewhat incapable of seeing how ridiculous the idea really was.
Kids are like mirrors. Not only do they contain some of our most unflattering traits, but they also pick up on our behavior – especially some we may not be aware of ourselves. Too many times a parent has punished a child for lying, only to turn around and tell a few falsehoods herself. How can we expect a child to demonstrate basic manners if he never sees them in action?
The Teenage Code
As much as we hate it, teenagers don’t see the world the way we once did. The new teenage code is simple. If you respect them, they will respect you. If you don’t show a child respect, they might pretend (if they are bright enough to), but will roll their eyes the minute your back is turned.
Ask, Don’t Tell
It might seem ridiculous since you are the parent, but asking can get you much farther than telling. Teenagers automatically balk when told to do something. Even the best behaved adolescent hates to be ordered about. By asking politely, you are not only demonstrating the politeness you want from your children, but allowing your teen to pretend it was his idea in the first place.
Play the Game
Your teenager truly believes she is an adult or close enough to count. She does not want to be treated like a child and refuses to mind like one. Of course parents know this about their children and can appease them to some degree. Play along. Treat your child like an adult as often as possible. If you child begins to behave in a childish manner – tantrums, whining, not being responsible, etc… simply let them know they are no longer acting like an adult so you are no longer obligated to treat them as one. When they revert back to overly mature behavior, play along again. Not only will this build trust between parent and child, it will help open avenues of communication. It is important to remember that your teen is NOT an actual adult, and you must still set rules and guidelines for their own safety.
Teenagers simply want to be treated with respect. They often do not respect others until they known they are being treated with respect. Show you care and are interested. Avoid rudeness, sarcasm, and insults. Even if they seem to be totally disgusted, teenagers need to be told how much you love them and respect their decisions – especially when you want to say the exact opposite. Guide them through bad decisions – It is part of growing up.
If all else fails, and your teenager is out of control, seek the help of professionals. Many American boarding schools specialize in helping teenagers who have veered off course and need help correcting persistent discipline problems. This is a well-known and well-respected avenue of assistance.