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Dealing with Teen Rebellion

Posted by Sue Scheff on April 27, 2020  /   Posted in Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Teen Depression, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Teen Rebellion: Oppositional Defiance Disorder or Spoiled Brat?

“It would be like saying your husband is ‘rebelling’ when he disagrees with you,” says Laurence Steinberg,Ph.D., a Temple University psychologist and author of more than a dozen books on adolescence, most recently the Age of Opportunity. “Parents become accustomed to little kids not questioning them, so when their kids get to an age where it’s natural for them to question, they see it as defiance.”

None of this is to say that dealing with a teenager who is constantly being contrarian is easy. Having someone in your house who rolls his eyes at your every utterance, slams her bedroom door when you tell her to clean her room, or stomps off when you set bedtimes or curfews can be extremely stressful.

But the distinction between actual rebellion and what most adolescents do—which is to push back in a normal, healthy way—is crucial.

3 Ways Parents can Make the Teen Years a Little Smoother:

1. Compromise where it makes sense.

It is important to understand that the major battles between teens and their parents are usually about control.

A typical example is when your kid has a messy bedroom. Mom and dad can’t get past the dust and dirt, piles of clothing, and grimy dishes. All they want is for things to be cleaned up—and now. Meanwhile, the kid says, “It’s my room. If you don’t like it, I’ll close the door.”

The key to solving this kind of argument is not to give your teen an ultimatum. “Clean your room or you can’t go out this weekend.” Instead, Steinberg suggests that parents find a way to reach a reasonable compromise. Acknowledge your teen’s point of view while asserting your parental right to have a clean home.

“Brainstorm with your kid to figure out a way you can both be happy,” Steinberg says.

In my own house, we’ve reached just such a compromise. My 17-year-old is required to pick up the mess in his room once a week so it can be cleaned. The rest of the week, I let him have his space. (I just try not to look.)

One way to find a middle ground is to test things on a pilot basis. Says Darling: “If there is an area where they want more freedom and you are uncomfortable, you can say, ‘Let’s try it—if it works out, great. If not, we’ll step back.’”

2. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

On big issues—abiding by curfew, attending school, never drinking and driving—parents have an obligation to be firm. And research shows that most teens are more than comfortable with that.

“In our studies we find that kids actually complain that parents don’t set rules—not that they do,” Darling says. “They may not like the rules, they may not agree with you, but they believe in your right to set them and they want those boundaries. It lets them know that you care, and it gives them something to rub up against.”

At the same time, parents shouldn’t be rigid on things that don’t matter as much, if at all.

“These are areas where you could make a case that the kid should have a say,” Darling explains. “Like what music they listen to, who their friends are, who they date, what they wear, and what they do in their free time.”

Steinberg agrees. “On most of the big issues, teens and parents usually see eye to eye,” he says. “It’s the little things that they get hung up on.”

3. Communicate early and often.

One way to lower the temperature in your house is to keep the lines of communication open. This is important no matter what age your child is. And if you are not in the habit of talking with your kids, it’s never too late to start.

That said, the earlier the better.

“Don’t wait until they are 13 or in trouble,” says Amy Bobrow Gross, Ph.D., a New York psychologist whose private practice focuses on children and teens. “You want them to feel comfortable talking to you well before they become teenagers.”

This isn’t always easy—especially if you have a tendency to argue. That’s why it’s best to walk away in the heat of the moment, Gross says. Then come back when everyone is calmer so you can have a more productive dialogue.

How To Talk To A Rebellious Teenager

If you want to talk to your teen about a particularly touchy topic, Gross advises, try sitting down with him and watching a TV show or a video that hits on the subject. That way, the conversation will feel less personal; the lens will remain on the larger issue, not on your child per se.

Another tip: sometimes the best time to chat is in the car, on a hike, or before bed when the lights are out—all occasions when you’re not looking your kid right in the eye. “Avoiding eye contact can take some of the pressure off,” Gross notes.

Finally, don’t lose sight of the fact that communicating with your teen is a two-way street. Keep your ears—and your mind—open. “A healthy argument is a good time for you to really listen and consider what your kid is saying,” Darling counsels. “It may be a good time to reconsider some of your rules.”

Of course, there are still situations in which teenagers act out in ways that are not normal or healthy. As a parent, you must be alert to the red flags.

Experts agree, for instance, that if your child is arguing with you about absolutely everything—“You can’t force me to go to school,” “You have no right to tell me not to drink”—it’s a cause for concern.

“In families where teenagers are being oppositional just for the sake of being oppositional, there is usually something wrong,” Steinberg says. “There are usually deeper problems in the family’s relationships.”

The same is true if your adolescent is lying to you, abusing drugs, or withdrawing completely. “If they are having unsafe sex, if they are drinking too much, if they are in trouble, you need to step in and get them to stop,” Darling says. “That is your job as a parent.”

But remember, this kind of behavior is more often the exception. In most families, a certain amount of pushback from your teenager is to be expected—even embraced. “They are just becoming more independent and autonomous,” Darling says. “They are doing what they are supposed to do.”

Just don’t call it rebellion.

Article by Randye Hoder, courtesy of Your Teen Magazine.

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If you’re struggling with your teenager and have exhausted your local resources, contact us today to learn more about how residential therapy can help your family.

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Advice for Teens with ADHD

Posted by Sue Scheff on April 04, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens
Image via Pixabay

Image via Pixabay

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is difficult for people of any age, but especially for teens. The teenage years are challenging enough, but ADHD adds to the challenges as teens are even more impulsive, inattentive, and at times hyperactive because of the disorder. Teens with ADHD have difficulty focusing and being organized, which leads to trouble in school, at work, and at home. Plus, hormone changes affect medications intended to treat ADHD symptoms. Teens with ADHD do not have to despair, though. There are strategies and tips for managing symptoms and making life a little easier for teens with ADHD. Here’s some advice for teens with ADHD.

Study and School Tips for Teens with ADHD

Studying, focusing, and recalling information are difficult for teens with ADHD. While these challenges make facing school rough on teens with ADHD, they do not make success in school impossible. Students should work with their parents, teachers, and counselors to identify their unique challenges and work toward finding solutions. Experiment with strategies until you find those that help you most in school. You may find that one of these study and school tips helps you to succeed in school:

  • Get a planner – Use a paper planner or the calendar on your smartphone, but use some form of a planner. Record homework, test dates, due dates, and other important school-related information in the planner. If you use your smartphone, set reminders in advance of assignments so that you don’t feel overwhelmed at the last minute when something is due for school.
  • Plan early on for college and career – Because procrastination and difficulty in school are typical for teens with ADHD, it is important to start thinking about the future in advance. Consider your strengths and areas of interest and think about what you want to do when you graduate. Research colleges and work with teachers and guidance counselors to plan ahead. If you know which college you’d like to attend or which career path you’d like to follow, it may motivate you to do better in high school because you know you are working toward a goal.
  • Experiment to find the best place to study – Some teens with ADHD study better when they are in a quiet place, while others need to have some noise in order to focus better. You may need complete quiet, so you could try headsets that block out all noise. Or, you may need to listen to music with noise-canceling headphones or earbuds so that you just hear your music and are not distracted by other noises around you.
  • Join a school athletic team. – Not only is exercise known to improve brain function, but doing it regularly can help burn off that restless energy that can be distracting when sitting in class. It’s usually better to join a non-contact sport like swimming that allows you to focus only on your own role rather than your own, your teammates’, and your opposition’s.

 

Relationship Tips for Teens with ADHD

Teens with ADHD may have issues with peer relationships. In fact, research shows teens with ADHD have fewer reciprocal friendships and are more ignored or rejected by peers. Similarly, they are likely to be victims of bullying or be the bullies themselves. There are some things teens can do to improve their relationships with their peers…

  • Talk about friendships and relationships – Find someone with whom you can discuss your friendships and relationships. The best option may be your therapist or school counselor, because they can help you with coping strategies and relationship strategies to help you overcome some of your friendship and relationship issues. These trusted adults are here to help you, so be as honest with them as possible.
  • Improve communication skills – Relationships are all about good communication, so teens with ADHD should work to understand non-verbal cues and become better listeners. Try to be more aware of the other person’s body language. Watch her face and hands and see whether she is relaxed and comfortable, or nervous and uncomfortable. Take a deep breath and focus on what she is saying while she talks. Try not to interrupt or change the subject. Talk with a parent or counselor about improving your communication and social skills so that you are more relaxed and less anxious with friends or people you are interested in dating.
  • Adopt a service dog.ADHD service dogs provide endless benefits to their owners, especially when it comes to relationships. In public, they provide an easy topic of conversation and a buffer for any potentially awkward run-ins. One-on-one, they provide completely nonjudgmental companionship. It may be difficult for your peers to understand you, but a dog will always accept and love you for exactly who you are. They even make playtime better: no competition, just fun!

Keep in mind that the teenage years are not easy for anyone. When your ADHD symptoms make your life more difficult, mention it to a trusted adult and work through it together. You can experiment with strategies that improve your studying and schooling to see what works for you. You also can approach relationships with some strategies in mind so you can foster friendships and date more successfully.

Contributor: Vee Cecil is a wellness coach, personal trainer, and bootcamp instructor. Vee is passionate about studying and sharing her findings in wellness through her recently-launched blog.

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