As your child winds her way into adulthood, there can be many times when you look at her and don't even recognize the kid you once knew. In testing out her new-found decision-making skills, she may go overboard, make wrong choices, end up in trouble or even actively rebel. Dealing with misbehavior in a teenager can be easier, however, if you understand where the actions are coming from. Sometimes, in fact, your teen is acting out due to something you've done.
Fitting into Stereotypes
It's normal to worry that your child is being introduced to drugs and alcohol, being pressured about sex, or simply learning bad, stereotypical behaviors from friends. But be wary of showcasing these anxieties to your teen. If your kid doesn't think you have faith in him to make the right choices, or thinks you've already made up your mind that he's engaging in such behaviors, he'll sometimes feel he's got nothing to lose, according to Professor of Psychology Christy Buchanan of Wake Forest University for ScienceDaily. She says that negative expectations of both parents and children predict more negative behaviors in the future.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, sometimes teenagers have the freedom to act out because they know their parents will love and care for them no matter what. Your child may be taking the opportunity to flaunt her new-found freedom without consequence, as no matter what she does, she always has a warm house and loving parents to come home to, says Erika Schwartz, MD, in an article for EduGuide.
The child you've come to know and love over the past 13 years is changing and growing, and sometimes that's hard to accept. As a parent, you may not be keeping up as well with the evolution of your teen, which can spark rebellion on his part as he tries to show you he's not that fresh-faced kid riding his bike around the block anymore, according to Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D., for Psychology Today. Parents who hang onto old definitions of their children in the face of changing teenage hormones may face more misbehavior as their children then try to show how they've changed and that they deserve more or different attention, as well as more respect as a person.
The teenage years are no walk in the park for parents, or kids either. Many times, you might find your child intentionally provoking you simply to get a reaction. She may seem to thrive on negative attention and you wonder where your child went. According to James Lehman, MSW, of Empowering Parents, your child may simply be angry at the world, at everything, at nothing, at the changes she's going through. Provoking a confrontation, yelling it out, laying the blame on her parents, the ones who will always love her, becomes a safe way to blow off her aggression as she transitions. If this is the case, it's best to gently bring that to her attention and try to work on more calming techniques that place the two of you on the same side, says Lehman.
- ScienceDaily: Stereotypes Can Fuel Teen Misbehavior
- EduGuide: What is Normal, What is Acceptable, and Why Do Teenagers Act This Way?
- Psychology Today: Surviving (Your Child's) Adolescence
- Empowering Parents: Is It an Adolescent Phase or Out-of-Control Behavior? Part II -- 8 Ways to Manage Acting-out Kids
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