Is Your Teenager Ignoring You? Expert Tips For Parents On How To Respond To Conflicts With Children

    Is Your Teenager Ignoring You? Expert Tips For Parents On How To Respond To Conflicts With Children

    By Geetika Kapoor

    Adolescence is marked by physical and psychological growth spurts.  There are so many changes occurring simultaneously that it is baffling to all people involved, especially the growing-up child. All these changes have an impact on day-to-day behaviours and interactions of the child. Sometimes, the shifts in behaviour patterns are so strong that parents find themselves questioning, “if this is the same child that we have been parenting all these years.”

    In psychology, adolescence is seen as a transitional period where the child is moving towards adulthood, and gradually shifting in habits and behaviour patterns of a more independent and self-sufficient person. In this transition period, a lot of childhood patterns and habits give way to newer experiments, such as what to do in free time, how much to share with parents, how to manage demands of school, family, and friends, how to carry one’s own self with confidence, how to decide best actions when one’s own beliefs and aspirations do not fit-in with others. 

    As teenagers are going through these confusions, they are likely to experience irritability, shifting concentration, and lethargy. They may also experiment with pleasure-seeking activities, such as partying, watching TV, gaming, social media, as ways to ward off the frustration resulting from all these confusions. All the pleasure-seeking activities can act as a defence mechanism to keep frustrating emotions at bay. 

    So, next time you notice your teenager ignoring you or procrastinating to complete their routine tasks, remind yourself that they are going through drastic changes within and around them. Try following actions to convert possible conflict situations to learning experiences for you and them — take a present moment check of where you are. 

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    Ask Yourself These 2 Questions Before Questioning Your Teen’s Actions 

    Beyond parenting our children, we have many other events we respond to, in each moment. It is a common occurrence that we are somewhere else in her head, yet end up responding to our children’s behaviour. These situations are recipes for relationship disaster. 

    As you observe yourself having the urge to comment or question your teenage child about what they are doing or not doing, take a pause and ask yourself, “Will I be able to stay with this correction till the end, or am I in the middle of something else?” If you find yourself saying, “I am in the middle of something else”, just walk past that moment without giving instruction or comment to your teenager. 

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    8 Tips To Deal With A Teen To Avoid Conflicts

    1. Observe your teenager about what is going on for them. It is a good idea to take a moment and estimate what your child is thinking and feeling. Before you enter the space with your agenda, it is important to take stock of where they are in their mind and body, and meet them where they are. For example, if you find your teenager lying on the sofa, scrolling on their phone, it is likely that they are lost in their thoughts or a game that they are playing. It will help to go near them, touch their shoulder or sit next to them, before you ask them about a pending chore.

    2. Practise being a person whose company you will cherish. When we turn towards the teenager and ask them to change, it becomes all about them. Reflecting on the qualities that you bring into the room, as a parent, will give you insight into the kind of person you are being. A lot of difference can be made when you practise being the person whose company you would genuinely admire. 

    3. Use reflective, and not reactive language. Take time to sit down with your teenager to reflect what they are moving towards. 

    4. Include them in your chores, clarify habits and personal qualities that you all value as a family. Including others in our activities and interests could mean seeking help, requesting assistance and being humble about our capacities to do it all by ourselves. Human beings thrive in groups. Developing an environment of seeking and giving assistance can add precious habit patterns. 

    5. Be a role model in showing the committed behaviours and values in your behaviour. A lot of conflict can be defused when we make the problem as much our responsibility as the other person’s. Instead of telling your teenager to practise differently, show them how you are taking actions, how you find solutions when you get stuck, and how you find your way back if you derail. Watching the parent practise certain qualities can be more effective than the parent telling what should be done. 

    6. Work with your teenager to practise the committed values and setting healthy boundaries, as a family. When we decide goals, we can be ambitious. But doing actions that will take us towards our goals can be a difficult journey. It is a huge help when we know we are not alone, and there are other people helping us do better. Use a problem-solving approach to figure out where you all feel stuck, and how you all can find your way through it. 

    7. Watch out for rising emotions and racing thoughts. Thoughts and feelings can frequently come in the way, and derail whatever we were trying to do. Whenever big feelings and heavy thoughts show up, remind yourself to keep breathing and taking small actions towards your goals as a parent. 

    8. Focus on the whole process. If you find yourself over focused on some part of this process, realign your actions to act on other processes as well. For example, if you find yourself reminding your teenager of the exercise routine that you are all committed to, ask yourself what is the behaviour pattern that you are struggling with, and how can you improve on that. Even better, seek your teenager’s insight into how you could work on your area of struggle.

    Geetika Kapoor is a Consultant School Psychologist

    Disclaimer: Information provided in this article is for general guidance only. Individual results may vary. It is important to consult a healthcare professional, who knows your body type and medical history, before implementing the suggestions and information provided herein.

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