What to do when your teen is rebelling

Teens rebel for many reasons. Some rebellion is natural, as teens adjust to their place in the world. “The key is knowing your teen and identifying the specific rebellion going on,” says Ken DeBlock, Shelterwood Director of Substance Abuse Prevention and Recovery. “Where is your teen emotionally? Is your teen just figuring it out? These questions can help you get to the root of the rebellion.” Discover these tips to help you navigate your teen’s rebellion.

What to do when your teen is rebelling:

1.) Shift your mindset.

As your teen develops autonomy, you have an opportunity to shift into a consultant role as a parent. “Making all of the decisions for them can build walls between you and your teen,” Ken explains. “Help your teen make smart decisions independently.”

When your teen rebels, it is also important to remember your own emotional triggers. For example, Ken says, if your parents gave you a very strict curfew as a teen, you may perceive your own teen pushing curfew as a rebellion, when it’s actually a relatively normal way for teens to rebel. Look at the information objectively and make sure you’re not making a decision from a place of hurt.

2.) Communicate consistently.

Consistent communication is essential in your relationship with your teen. When your teen rebels, keep open lines of communication. Be a safe person who your teen can confidently ask about what is going on, and offer love and support in return. “If you and your teen never talk, it’s harder to know the real cause for the rebellion,” Ken says.

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3.) Utilize a support system.

During a rebellious season, many parents tend toward secrecy because they are ashamed of their teen’s behavior, Ken says. “You do not have to do this alone,” Ken says. “Reach out to a trusted friend, counselor or pastor. Get a trusted opinion from an outside source. They can help you make a decision from a smart place and offer an objective perspective.”

4.) Pick your battles.

Ken recommends parents determine the open-handed items and closed-handed items for their family. Which areas are up for compromise or conversation? Which boundaries are firm and non-negotiable, no matter what? Whether it is curfew or drugs, Ken acknowledges many parents struggle to decide what is okay and what is not. “Pick your battles based on your values,” Ken says. “Determine where there is room for conversation and where there is a hard boundary line.”

5.) Parent from a place of love

Parenting from a place of love means recognizing that rebellion is part of your teen growing up, Ken says, and not your teen’s anger towards you. “The rebellion is not about intentionally defying you or upsetting you. It is about your teen trying to figure out life and their place in the world.”

“Even though some of their decisions might impact your life in a negative way, do not take it personally — then you’re making decisions from a place of hurt instead of a place of love.”

As a parent, if you feel you’ve been pushed to a place of emotional unhealthiness, consider Shelterwood. Our residential treatment center program is designed to be a safe space for your teen, a place of real hope, real heart change and real restoration for struggling teens. Our goal is to bring heart change to teenagers and restoration to families. Learn more about how Shelterwood can restore your teen here.

Five Strategies for Listening Well

Listening is a challenging aspect of communication, particularly when parenting a struggling teen. When you listen well, you show your teen that their opinions, thoughts, feelings and perspective are valuable. You demonstrate that your child is worth your time — and you encourage and empower your teen too. Here are five strategies that you can put into action today to improve your own listening skills — and, at the same time, model for your teen what it looks like to listen well:

Be present.

With our smartphones always within reach, it is very tempting to rush to respond to text messages or check app updates as soon as you hear that telltale notification. Unfortunately, media can easily pull us out of the moment, both distracting us from the conversation and making us seem uninterested in the person we are with. Strive to set your phone aside until after the conversation is over, and ask your teen to do the same. The conversation will be much more productive that way, and people will remember that you made an effort to be as present as possible.

Expect disagreements.

Adolescence is the time when teens naturally establish their own opinions and preferences, and building this independence can be healthy! Walk into conversations knowing that you and your teen may not share the same perspective. This helps our minds remain open, and helps us stay focused on listening rather than reacting. We will be less likely to let our own thoughts and beliefs interfere with listening well. Do not be afraid to share your thoughts, but never let them override the importance of hearing others.

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Be intentionally inquisitive.

Look for naturally occurring space in conversation for asking appropriate questions. When you do, you show your teen that you are paying attention, you are interested in what he or she is saying and you are committed to learning more. Regardless of the outcome of the conversation, your teen will leave knowing you care.

Keep an open mind.

Soak in what you are hearing. Just as you expect your teen to learn from you, you can also learn more about your teen through this conversation. Jumping in with our own response is tempting, particularly when the topic is volatile or challenging; but, if all we do is wait for the other person to stop speaking, we entirely miss what they are saying as we prioritize our own thoughts and beliefs over theirs.

Listen between the lines.

When you listen well, you can get to know your teen’s heart. As you hear their words, try and step into their shoes and imagine how they’re feeling in the moment. Once you think you have a handle to on what emotions are being represented, ask questions to make sure you understand correctly. This is a pivotal step in showing empathy for your teen.

Listening well is one of the best ways to open doors in relationships and creates a much deeper level of understanding — both for you and for your teen.

How to teach your child responsibility

All parents want to raise responsible, caring children — but teaching your child the value of responsibility takes time. Sometimes, doing less in your child’s life can spur greater responsibility. Explore five tips to help you along the way.

1.) Lead with action.

Teaching your child responsibility begins with you. Be a trustworthy role model for your child: set a strong example by following through on your commitments to your family and children. Be dependable and accountable, and your child will see responsibility in action every day.

2.) Give your teen a role.

Give your child a role in the family and set expectations. Whether the role is preparing a dinner or helping a younger sibling with homework, your teen needs opportunities to learn and demonstrate responsibility. Be there to encourage and guide, but let them take the lead. If you see opportunities for improvement, point them out; at the same time, remember to commend your teen for taking steps in the right direction.

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3.) Do less.

As your child grows older, you want them to succeed while knowing they are loved. Doing less for your child is difficult, but it teaches responsibility. Instead of micromanaging, give your teen the freedom to take ownership of actions and consequences, both good and bad. This shows your teen that their contributions are valuable and that you trust them to make smart decisions and follow through on their commitments. Ultimately, doing less teaches your teen to be responsible so they can thrive in adulthood.

4.) Broaden their responsibility.

Give your children opportunities to learn responsibility beyond themselves. This includes responsibility to siblings, neighbors, community and more. Let them demonstrate responsibility in new ways they will enjoy. For example, your teen can participate in a community service with your family or become a volunteer for a local animal shelter with friends. Your teen also gains a sense of perspective through these activities, learning that they are part of a larger community.

5.) Be patient.

Every child is unique and grows to value responsibility in his or her own way. Be patient as he or she learns. Share expectations for your teen with both confidence and compassion. Also, remember to be patient with yourself as you learn the best way to teach responsibility effectively.

Shelterwood Residential Treatment Agency is committed to bringing heart change to teenagers and restoration to families. At Shelterwood, our desire is to create an environment where teens know they are loved, valued and have purpose. To learn more ways to teach responsibility in your home, contact Shelterwood.