When kids become teens, they start acting like they don’t need us. If we don’t understand why they’re doing this, and figure out ways to respond gracefully, we risk building resentment in the relationship.
It helps to understand that teens who push us away may be merely expressing a normal developmental stage in the best way they know how. After all, it’s their job to become their own person, and become more responsible for their lives. When parents find ways to keep love alive, even during this sometimes tense stage of life, they have their best shot at helping their kids launch confidently in just a few years.
Check out this video (made in partnership with Family Life Canada) to learn more.
In our Sibling Conflict online course we teach something called The Peace Process, using the steps Calm, Understand, Solve, Celebrate. The story below is from a mom of three who has implemented this process in her own family.
We have three children: a 12-year-old daughter and two sons, ages 8 and 10. Our sons – Henry and Sam, respectively – were going through a period of hassling with each other frequently, and it was significantly affecting the overall vibe in our home. We decided to teach them the Connected Families steps for peaceful reconciliation.
Disciplining misbehaving kids is often a difficult and emotion-laden task. Our oldest son Daniel, sometimes said to Lynne, “Mom, you just bursted all over us!” And he was painfully right. Jim had his share of quick, harsh reactions as well. Those were discouraging times for all of us, and we wished we knew how to get unstuck from that negative pattern.
Everyone would agree that loving our children is one of the most important things a parent can do.
But sometimes expressing that love isn’t as easy as it sounds. Sarafina wrote about a breakthrough she had in learning to connect with an extremely angry child:
One of the biggest deterrents to effective discipline is that parents get upset. They then use their big upset emotions to push outcomes.
The younger kids are, the more this works to manage behavior. But over time, as kids tire of this pushing, they either start pushing back, or they tire of trying and learn to comply to get on with life – not because they value right behavior, but because they don’t want to get in trouble.
In our kitchen, there is a huge dent in the floor. I see it every day. It is a reminder to me of the day in which I learned something important about myself when it comes to discipline. It was a day when I saw myself in my son’s eyes and saw what I was communicating to him in a very tense moment. When I look at that big gouge, I can feel my emotions rising, and I feel… love? Yes, love. Here’s the story.
For years I have struggled with the mess that our lively, spontaneous, creative, frequently disorganized children made at high speed. I used to call it “Trash and Dash.”
Since their father has somewhat more “relaxed” standards of housekeeping than I do, household messes were a constant battle in which I felt hurt, alone, and resentful.
In my role as a parenting speaker I do a lot of role plays with people in the audience. Though I had seen a lot of yelling, whining, and laughter from these role plays, I had never seen tears — but recently that changed.
In our online course a parent once asked the following question:
I see the difference you’re talking about between typical parenting and parenting with the four messages in mind… and I like the difference I see… here comes the BUT… what about when you are pressed for time and have to get out the door and your kiddo won’t comply in a timely manner?
“You’re stupid!” says the frustrated child.
The parent feels annoyed, even a bit angry and responds, “You can’t talk to me that way! You’re grounded for the rest of the day! You go to your room and think about what you said!”
Parents often deal with situations like this hoping to teach their children a lesson — but sometimes this typical sort of guidance can lead in the wrong direction. This sort of consequence may lead to more anger and disrespect down the line.
Here are three characteristics of unhelpful consequences that parents often give to their misbehaving or struggling kids.