Teens are notoriously often at odds with their parents, rebelling, and engaging in behavioural patterns that can be worrying if not downright self-destructive.
While many parents despair at their teenagers’ behaviour, and end up frequently embroiled in arguments in order to help set them back in the right track, an argumentative home dynamic is often not very productive, either with regards to achieving the parents’ desired outcome, or with regards to overall domestic harmony.
While certain organisations and programs such as Youth Villages exist to help at-risk teens from foster families transition into adulthood, it’s no less important for parents to implement processes that can help to guide their teens productively, while reducing excessive arguments.
Here are just a few things you could do that might help to guide your teens without causing excessive arguments – although, of course, every case and relationship dynamic is unique, and there is no one size fits all answer.
Set a good example of the kind of behaviour you expect from them
The phrase “do as I say, not as I do,” has been around for a long time, and refers to the hypocritical and ultimately unproductive tendency of many parents to instruct their kids to behave in a certain way, while simultaneously setting the exact opposite example with their own behaviour.
In all areas of society, it’s probably fair to say that most people are reluctant to take advice from individuals that don’t appear to be taking that advice themselves. And this is certainly as true for teenagers as it is for everyone else.
Why your teen might not always be willing to hear you out in a reasonable and balanced discussion, and to take your words on board, they will frequently tend to be influenced by the behavioural example you set.
So, set a good example of the kind of behaviour you expect from your teens, first and foremost.
Listen, in addition to instructing
The teenage years are a confusing and difficult time in many ways, with teens struggling to navigate this transitional period of their lives between childhood and adulthood, while adapting to social norms around them, and exploring their own boundaries.
Often, teens will be reluctant to speak a lot about their concerns and personal lives, if pushed by their parents. But if they feel that they can speak with their parents without causing a commotion, they’ll be far more likely to confide, and to enter into a positive dialogue.
In addition to instructing your teens on how to behave, make sure that you’re there to listen to them when they are ready to talk, as well.
Structure the home environment so that it naturally encourages healthy behaviours
The book “Nudge” looks at compelling psychological evidence that human behaviour is often influenced primarily by subtle environmental cues, rather than by our conscious faculties.
By structuring your home environment so as to naturally encourage healthy behaviours, you can have a subtle but powerful positive impact on your teens.
Start with things like keeping healthy food in the house, rather than unhealthy snacks.