It’s no big secret that teenagers are a bundle of joy. For the most part, you never know what to expect from one day to the next. Sometimes they love spending time with you and the rest of the family; other times they act as though you are the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to them and they’re way too cool for you; and other times they act as though the entire world – you included – is out to get them. Teenage behavior is a mystery to many, and you might find yourself wondering how exactly you are supposed to deal with something you don’t understand. Dealing with teen behavior may seem intimidating, but it isn’t nearly as difficult as many people think.
Think before you act on your teen’s behavior. Since teen behavior changes from one minute to the next, spend a few minutes thinking about your teen’s behavior before you act. If your initial thought as a result of her behavior is that she must be depressed, ask yourself what it is she is doing to make you feel that way. If she’s moping because you told her the only way she could go shopping was if you accompanied her, she’s not depressed, she’s angry because she views your presence as an interruption of the plans she already made.
Talk to your teen. Ask him to explain his behavior at the moment. It might catch him off guard that you’re asking him, but do it anyway. Showing interest in his problems and his life will help him to remember that you love him and that you want to understand and help him with his problems. This helps open up the line of communication between the two of you, which reminds him he can talk to you anytime. It’s just one way you can deal with teen behavior and help your teen deal with life.
Pick your battles carefully. Teens are notoriously argumentative and confrontational. They typically are not afraid to stand up to you and push the limits with you as much as possible. Too many battles can have a lasting negative effect on your relationship, so choose your battles. For example, if your teen wants to stay out half an hour later at night on the weekends, don’t automatically say no. Consider her sense of responsibility, her grades and her attitude to you and those around you. If she’s generally well-behaved, smart and responsible, let her stay out a half hour later on the weekends. This way when she comes to you and asks if she can get a tattoo on her lower back and you say no, she can’t accuse you of being unfair and never letting her do anything. She’s more likely to see that you are fair and that you do let her do some things. Perhaps she’ll eventually even understand that this request was a bit much and thank you for being fair.
Define the expectations you have for your teen and the consequences he will face when he does not meet said expectations. This way, there is no gray area. He knows clearly what is right and what is expected of him and may not do anything but accept the consequences of his actions without a fight.
Be consistent with enforcing the rules and consequences that go hand in hand with breaking them. It's easier to deal with teen behavior when you are consistent with your own behavior.