Dealing with your tween's new attitude



Causes, what to expect, how to respond and more

Tween attitudes and what to do about them

An article by Susan Galvin, LCSW and Renée Bradford Garcia, LCSW  on The Center for Parenting Education website gives some great insight on why adolescents behave the way they do and what you can do about it.

The authors state that parents can become extremely frustrated with their child's not-so-nice remarks, being disrespectful, and ungrateful. Not to mention the constant pushing away from the family.

Is your child aware of these behaviors?

This article states that parents should definitely develop a thick skin and realize it is not about them. In other words, don't take it personally. Many times these behaviors come from one or several of these issues:
  • Your child's brain is changing - This makes them more impulsive and creates heightened emotions that can blow out of proportion
  • Individual identity is forming - They need to become separate from their parents
  • Testing limits - They want to know you will keep them safe and set boundaries
  • Their bodies are changing and so is their social world - Kids don't tend to think of parents' perspectives during this period
This doesn't mean you should condone improper behavior. Stand your ground and be sure to correct them when needed.

Behaviors they will exhibit include huffing and puffing, complaining, overreacting, becoming critical, challenging you and your beliefs, talking back, and of course, rolling their eyes at you. This does not happen all the time. You may feel like you live with more than one kid in the same body. This is normal and healthy.

What to do
  • Choose your battles - What are the biggest issues you need to address? Sometimes it is best to wait until everyone has cooled down.
  • Teaching moments - Use their bad behavior to make them aware of their actions and how it affects others.
  • Reacting - Give it a minute. You don't have to deal with it right away.
  • This is just a phase - Make it your mantra and stay as calm as you can. A sense of humor and deep breathing can be useful.

Are you part of the problem?

Assess how you react to your child. Be sure you are not reacting with an attitude of your own and don't engage when they give you one. Try not to overreact either. It won't help. Be sure to speak to your child with respect even when they don't reciprocate.

Adjust that attitude

You can ignore their behavior but don't do it for too long. Look for opportunities for them to hear how they are speaking and how it can negatively impact others. Perhaps ask them to repeat what they said in a better tone of voice. Adolescents often don't realize they have adopted a negative tone.

Is something bothering your child?

Kids face lots of pressure these days, especially with friends and social media. Is your child disrespectful to others besides family. Is your kid's behavior causing problems at school? Keep an eye out for disinterest in things they used to do or like, new friends or loss of old ones, and grades in school. Talk with them and if you decide your child needs help, consider a professional.

See our list of places to get Mental Health Help here.

You can also find the authors' book "Don’t Look at Me in that Tone of Voice: Tween Discipline for Busy Parents" here.




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