- life advice for Parents and Adults from Renee Mill

Tame Your Teenager

by Renee Mill, Clinical Psychologist
Originally published in HealthSmart, June - July 2010

Grrrrrrrrr! Is your child a Jekyll and Hyde – rude and argumentative with you, but charm personified with others? Clinical psychologist Renée Mill has tips to tame your teen.

Don't be afraid: 
Remember at all times that you are the parent: be decisive; be clear; be authoritative – even if you don't feel it, eg. "I expect you to speak to me in a friendly manner and not to growl at me." Have boundaries, and reinforce them if your teen disrespects them EG: "I cannot listen to you when you use that tone. Please start again and speak in a friendly manner." Don't give threats – you'll lose credibility. Just state your expectations. Over time, your teenager will respect the setting of limits.

Repetition, repetition, repetition:
If you give up on your message, so will they. With repetition, you have every chance of success eventually. Each time your adolescent is disrespectful, restate your expectations. You can vary this. EG : "I cannot hear you," "Respect, please," or "Call me when you can talk appropriately."

Be realistic and choose appropriate battles:
Most teenagers are messy. Either clean up after them or ignore the mess, but don't waste time trying to make them clean. Save your energy for the big things, such as respect for you and themselves, or their work ethic.

Partner power:
If your partner is the other parent or carer, it's vital you agree on values and expectations for your child. If you're estranged from the other parent, still try to agree on these points – adolescents exploit vulnerabilities.

Walk the talk:
Practise what you preach: if you smoke, don't expect your children not to do the same.

See through the façade:
Most importantly, never stop loving your child. Over time, love and a deep connection will motivate even the most difficult adolescent to try to please you. So try to do things together, get in touch with your inner adolescent, and chill. You never know ... you might even enjoy it!

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