3 Reasons Teenagers Rebel and Push You Away
Here’s what you can do about it
The teen years. Some parents start dreading that phase early on, when their kids are still toddlers and they experience the first inkling of their child resisting their guidance. For me, the fear that I may not always be able to protect my child or keep him safe has been ever present since I became a Mom, mostly lurking in the background of my subconscious. However, when my teen went through a couple of rebellious years, it rose quickly to my daily conscious awareness, as his behaviour was in my face every day.
While the reason that teenagers rebel generally stems somewhat from their growing desire for independence and is developmentally normal, some teens rebel more intensely.
If your teen is starting to engage in potentially risky behaviours, and at the same time, is pushing you away or seems to be not listening, you can connect with them more easily if you understand what they need.
They need independence, and, still need support
Here are three insights to what might be going on with your teen, and what you can do about each.
- Your teenager doesn’t feel heard or feels misunderstood. Sometimes this is because adults aren’t listening and acknowledging their feelings or experience. When when your teenager tells you something, avoid responding by giving them your opinion or some “helpful” information. It doesn’t matter if your opinion or the information are right or correct. Your teen will feel heard if you acknowledge their feelings or the experience they’re having.
- Your teenager doesn’t want to be told what to do. Unlike earlier years, where they may have felt a sense of security or safety when you had the answers for them, they want to figure it out for themselves now. They’re seeking to define their identity and values. The most supportive action you can take to help them and stay connected is to ask genuinely curious questions, and avoid judging their ideas and beliefs.
- They’re striving for independence. This is developmentally normal, however, because their brain is undergoing a huge change during the teen years and early 20’s, you can best support them by helping them learn the skills they need in baby steps.
For instance, it’s common for some teens to become less organized during these brain changes. You may need to lower your expectations and offer to help–either by doing a task together, or by offering to share a couple of tips for how to stay organized when multiple tasks that need doing.
These strategies, plus getting the support I needed, were my lifeline during the teen years.
When you stay connected to your teenager, this stage of parenting is your opportunity to meet your teen as an emerging adult and provide the support they need to level up their skills with dignity and confidence.
I’m curious — which of these strategies has helped you to stay connected with your teen?