Having to face a grumpy child? They may now feel more open to answering back, displaying an attitude and knowing it all. Consider the age your child is in: toddlerhood or teenage years. In both of these age groups, your child is in a period of transition, discovering new abilities and assessing the scope of their decision-making power. They are very likely to do their own things with an in-your-face attitude.
Given that they may be feeling the effects of change in their age and their identity, it may be okay for them to act a certain way. However, some parenting tips can help pacify them and make things better between you and them. Paradoxically, these tips are, in actual, for dealing with toddlers but they apply as well to teens who are growing up.
- Emotional Turmoil
Teens navigate situations like preforming well in class, going to the first date, carrying the burden of newfound professional roles, and/or facing biological changes with feelings of pressure. To them, these situations present unconquerable challenges, which is similar to how toddlers feel while being made to eat vegetables or asked to sleep.
You might very much want to resolve their struggles so that they can feel at peace. However, you can’t immediately make everything right given that they are feeling emotionally unstable and it will take a fair amount of time for them to feel normal. Nevertheless, you can do things like reassuring them about their perspective on matters, crafting up their favorite foods, or training them to have an optimistic mindset in response to problems. You may also be left with no choice at times expect to lend a supportive ear to whatever they have to say on how they feel.
Teens and toddlers are great at expressing empathy for how others are feeling. In their states of emotional turmoil, you can help by creating a connection with them. Express to them how you are also having trouble dealing with some challenges in your lives. This can divert their attention from their inner state to an external problem they can address. Similarly, it may even motivate your toddler to focus on, let’s say, their vocabulary-enhancing exercise instead of whining on how they feel about having to do so.
- Having It Their Way
Teens or toddlers alike act like know-it-alls. After all, they are from a very different generation, one that grew exposed to Apple and Facebook. Certainly, what you knew or used to know doesn’t always apply in their case. Nonetheless, you can’t leave your child to their own devices in facing new problems. After all, in their naiveté and lack of experience, they are bound to fail. You can still enable them to better sail through the various challenges while keeping their quest for independent decision making in check.
A tactic that can work is to inform them that they can come to you whenever they need any support in contrast to giving them the impression that you are the boss. A nod in favor of some action of theirs is better than the imposition of an order. Even though, they believe that they are at the center of the universe, you can help steer away their self-focus by bringing attention to how you acted in a certain situation. You could say something like: “When I was your age, ________ is how it turned out to be for me.” Thereby, you are suggesting some remedies to their predicaments subconsciously. After all, surprisingly, the fact of the matter is that even in teenage years, your children take inspiration from your example.
As another option, when you are unable to curtail their insistence on autonomous decision making, you may want your teen to fail. Learning from failure is almost akin to your toddler trying something new such as discovering a new color of crayon.
A Gambler’s Attitude
Seeking more independence is just one part of the equation. Toddlers also wish to place a lot more bets with themselves. For instance, they may want to move on to a full-fledged bed as opposed to being restricted to a night’s sleep in a crib, advance to the monkey bars for older children, or insist on having only dessert as sustenance for life. Sadly, teens might also seek to unbar the present restrictions without closely assessing the repercussions.
A teen could make some decisions on the spur of the moment, putting themselves at risk for harm, emotional upheaval or dependence on substances. To contain their appetite for risk, you could help them regulate their conduct by relying on self-analyzing questions: “Am I doing this for myself? Do I need this to feel happy? Will what I wish to do impact anyone else?” The results of this self-audit will see them calm down their impulsive attitude, ensuring they are involved in some activity not out of social pressure but because they want it for themselves.
Andy Earle is a researcher who studies parent-teen communication and adolescent risk behaviors. He is the co-founder of talkingtoteens.com, ghostwriter at WriteItGreat.com, and host of the Talking to Teens podcast, a free weekly talk show for parents of teenagers.