I have two boys who are becoming a real handful. I do worry about them constantly as both their grades are not good and their regular bad behaviour is leaving me tired and upset. What should I do?
Parenting a teenager can be exhausting. There are so many hats you have to wear; the rule maker, referee, adjudicator, holder of the purse strings, ‘killjoy’ — and the person they still need to navigate them through to adulthood. You’re seemingly either racing around after them, in a state of perpetual rage because of them, or you’re constantly worrying about what kind of future lies ahead for them. Then of course there’s their studies, their assignments and the big one — their exams.
So, at what point in all this full-on teen-nurturing do you set aside any time for yourself? And I mean real time that you’ve specifically reserved just for you? In my experience, probably none or as near to none as will barely register. Ensuring that you ring-fence some ‘me time’ or some ‘us time’ is vital to allowing yourself time to fully disengage and recharge. It doesn’t need to be a two weeks’ vacation (although that would be nice), it can be a morning or a couple of hours. Whatever form it takes, you need to make it yours and not theirs. They’ve got into the habit of being ‘takers’ and the notion extends to the point that they imagine your time is their time. Not so, not always anyway.
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So, when you’ve had chance to recharge your batteries a little, how best to tackle the challenging behaviour from your teens? I always start with two questions. Who’s in charge? And where do the boundaries lie? The answer to who’s in charge is likely to be that they think they are, you think you are, and in all probability that means the boundaries are too blurred.
The thing about teenagers is that — and although they hate to admit it — they are in fact still children. You are the adult and you’re in charge. So, it’s now time to set out some ground rules and come up with a clear and fixed set of boundaries for them to adhere to. Your teenagers may object at first to your new regime, but deep down they know your rules are a sign you care for them and you know they will benefit from this new arrangement.
When setting your boundaries avoid becoming overly draconian in your approach or creating an unhappy space. That’s not the objective here. Still allow them to have their own space and their own privacy. You should also allow them the chance to voice their ideas and opinions. But then do remember — as you’re the one in charge — you make the decisions and you have the final word.
Now to the challenging part; you must always maintain a calm, clear and consistent approach when dealing with confrontation, conflict and bad behaviour from your teens. Be clear about the consequences and you must follow through with them. Teenagers are largely driven by emotional responses. They often feel out of control because of this and that’s why you need to take and be in control. Once they know where they stand, many of the other issues you mention will fall into place.
Russell Hemmings is a Dubai-based lifecoach and hypnotherapist. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org.