One of the best tools we can use ourselves is patience! Often easier to say than do when hormones are raging around the house, tempers are short and it's difficult to strike a good conversation. I always think however that if we understand where our teenagers are coming from its a little easier to 'disengage' from our own emotions and see a situation for what it is..... which is often pain manifesting in our teenager as anger or frustration or anxiety.
Most adolescents have moments of hate and anger directed at parents. In fact, scientific evidence suggests that if we have children who are consistently docile and trying to please us, we might have teens who aren't accomplishing some of the necessary developmental stages of adolescence and will as a consequence struggle to find their own identity.
That still doesn't solve the problem when you refuse to let your son go out with friends because he lost the privilege and he responds with, “I hate you and wish you'd die,” or your daughter gives you glaring looks as you talk about a family dinner on a Saturday night. What can you do?
1. The first thing is to NOT REACT.
2. Having remained in control of ones own emotions the next best thing is to immediately assess the situation and estimate if it is likely to erupt into an argument. How are you feeling? Tired? A RISK ESTIMATION is vital in order to prevent an unnecessary eruption.
3. WALK AWAY FROM 'digs' or hurtful comments. If necessary do a quick visit to the supermarket, take the dog for a walk or sweep the garden drive. Do something active to engage your attention and remove yourself from the situation.
4. Return when the emotions are calmer and have a conversation - being patient to not only listen but also HEAR what is being said. Many of us are very good listeners but actually hearing the viewpoint of your teen is half the battle to solving the situation! Always repeat what you think you've heard: "What I'm hearing is that you had already made plans to go out on Saturday. Is that right?" "I understand now where you are coming from so how about we work together now to find a solution? What about if we eat early and you go out before desert, or we reschedule family dinner for Sunday night?"
By trying to compromise and by giving choice you are empowering your teen. You are also showing that they matter. They are then able to find a solution that works for them AND they can still work around their plans!
Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore’s Ted Talk on the subject of anxiety has been viewed more than 1.7 million times. Her research found that during adolescence, the pre-frontal cortex – the area of the brain associated with self-regulation, conscious decision-making, memory, judgment and insight (among other things) – is still developing. Teenagers, therefore, do not have the self-control to not take risks, even if they know something is risky. They have little self control and will lash out EVEN THOUGH they are aware that they are being hateful or unkind.
Remember that they are mostly not meaning the things they say and in fact most of the time will carry deep guilt and shame for hurting you. GREAT PATIENCE and consistent, unwavering LOVE will show them however that you are still holding them secure, no matter what they do. This is the platform they will need all their lives ie they are loveable and they have keys themselves for working through difficult situations.