Tips for Surviving Teen Angst | East Texas Moms Blog

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teens

She woke up in a good mood. He woke up furrowing his brow and rolling his eyes. Tomorrow may be the opposite. Moodiness is triggered by some unknown source. Blaming lack of sleep and too much screen time sounds like a good excuse but I’m really just winging it and trying to make sense out of the teen angst that is currently plaguing our house.

The transition into the teen years felt like it came on slowly. I thought it would be like all other transitions where the kid would start showing signs of change. However, the hardest parenting transition I have experienced so far, is absolutely, the entrance into the teens. (This encompasses tween to teen!)

We have moved from Cop to Coach.

I’m no longer monitoring the children constantly; hovering to correct behavior.  Instead, I spend more time watching them move through a range of emotions and offer support, eye contact, and strawberry milkshakes until the emotions stabilize. Maybe this behavior is normal, but there are no longer any parenting books like the ones that helped me at the beginning.  The “What to Expect…” series saved my sanity for a few years. However, no one actually knows what to expect from tween and beyond.

Now that I have been “winging” it for about a decade, I have been able to figure out a few things that keep me from shin kicking my kids or running away. My parenting tools had to change as he entered high school. (The Middle School parenting tools no longer applied.) A “middle” to a “big” may only feel different because I have changed. This stage of parenting involves an appropriately timed response.

Here are 5 secret tools I’m using to calm the hormonal storms in our home.

Let him be angry.

Frustrated. Sad. Disgruntled. Whatever the emotion is that causes a furrowed brow, an eye roll, or the hurtful pull back when you’re just trying to pat his shoulder. You don’t have to fix it. He has to learn to work through whatever this feeling is. Now, under your (secretly) watchful eye, he has room to push and pull and figure out why he keeps making that face. You are the best person to love him through this emotion.  

Be patient.

Don’t push for words. She may not have any that you really want to hear right now. It may be a good time for her to count to a really high number as she processes whatever it was that started the roller coaster. She will eventually get off…wait for the ride to end. You do not have to man the controls of this carnival ride. It may be safer to get some cotton candy and watch from behind the fence.

Find an activity to share.

He may just need to do something active like a “time-in”. We used “time-ins” when he was little. Focusing on threading beads or sorting buttons was much more beneficial for my kids as toddlers and threenagers. Time out only made him frustrated and gave him the opportunity to sit and stew. Time-ins distracted and gave him the opportunity to chill. 

Threading beads or coloring may not work for a teenager, but the concept still stands. Throw a ball. (It is really hard to stay mad when you are throwing a ball and being silly.) Play tennis. My teenager and I started taking lessons together so that we have a thing we do. Sports don’t really require a lot of talking and they dispel angst better than sitting.

Don’t take it personally.

When she pulls away with just your touch, it’s her, not you! When he cuts you off before you can finish the sentence….it’s him, not you. The patient part comes into play here too. I let him cut me off, then I finish my sentence in a much calmer tone. Like I’m talking to a rabid cat that’s snuck into my garage. Soothing…and a little fearful.

Don’t hold it against her.

It’s not her fault. (We blame hormones!!) Eventually he will look you in the eye without the furrowed brow. It may be days later, but it will happen. Mine pulled out of it (whatever “it” is) two days later. And because I was not pushy, allowing him to work it out, I could ask him…”What the what, dude?” We took the long way home and talked about what happened (“I don’t know”) and why (“I don’t know”).

We didn’t solve any world problems, but he did thank me for being chill and not getting mad when he was being a punk. I’ll take that kind of victory all day long!!

When life brings big winds of change that almost blow you over,

close your eyes. hold on tight, and believe.

-Lisa Lieberman-Wang

**Disclaimer: I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to parenting. These are just a few things that worked this month at my house. If you think your child is being hurt, find someone he will talk to. Sometimes that’s another adult and sometimes you have to pay an adult to really get to a root cause. Never under estimate or disregard the value of a good therapist!

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Up until recently, Tiffany and her family called South Tyler home. When the farm next to her mom went up for sale, she and her handsome husband, Mike, and their two children, Michael (12) and Katelynn (10) decided to take a chance and learn how to live a small town farm life. The move has been an exciting and challenging adventure. You can read more about the family and farm adventures on her blog (www.lovelikebreathing.com). Tiffany works part-time for her family’s business and splits the rest of her time caring for children, chickens, church family, and community. She loves to tell a good story, read a good book, and enjoy a good conversation. Tiffany believes that loving people well at the place your life intersects with theirs, will heal our broken world one moment at a time.