Dealing With Teens The Easy Way - Competence and Confidence

Dealing With Teens The Easy Way - Competence and Confidence - By Steve Wickham

I'VE ALWAYS ESTABLISHED that living through the teen years can be a veritable nightmare in some ways. 'Nobody understands me' could be at times the catch cry of your average teenager. Juggling the inevitable and rampant hormonal explosion whilst having to settle and achieve in a world that demands a disciplined result; it's a rather large request don't you think? It's no small wonder that a lot of teens struggle, fall, and fail in this context. Add to this the home context. Most parents are threatened by a teen who 'can't respect them.' Little do they realise, when you're struggling with your own self-image and you're not loving yourself, you're even less likely to love others, particularly parents. In this situation, the teen loves their parent(s) but cannot show them. It's the perfect catch-22.
So, how does a parent cope in this pretty thankless situation? How do we not take things to heart, like disrespect, insults, and non-consideration? Well it helps to keep a longer term view on things, like what it is going to be like in five to ten years when they've matured and can finally see what you did it for, and more importantly, why. Your role as parent is not about 'being liked' or 'being respected,' it's more about 'protecting them' and keeping them from harm; it's a guidance, subtle coaching, and facilitation role. From this perspective, it is far easier to remain calm in the midst of a typhoon!
'It's not about you,' is the stock cliché. But it's true; it's not about you as parent. You need to draw on all your experience and all of your powers to be strong for your teenage son or daughter, providing both boundaries and space for them to grow into. It's not easy and no one promised it would be. Don't you find it fascinating how your parents (the teen's grandparents) recall vividly the trials of their time with teens?! Youth these days are really no different from how they've ever been. The environment changes but our human natures do not.
To 'be strong' as a parent means, among other things:
  • Being wise about how you behave in front of your children (you are an important role model after all);
  • Having a good support network of peers, family and friends to de-brief with;
  • Implementing the right balance of boundaries and discipline, including doing the 'hard thing' when it's required;
  • Being able to talk through issues with your teen without allowing emotions to 'boil over,' a seeking for, and the negotiation of, where possible, win / win outcomes. Remember, you are the adult. You need to maintain control of your emotions;
  • Becoming more self-aware (being able to see yourself in action and then respond appropriately with prudence, "in the moment");
  • Becoming more aware and knowledgeable about "who" you're dealing with, including the empathy of being "in their shoes"; and,
  • Being able to remain humble and able to say sorry when it's required.
There are times when it is important to put your foot down. It's knowing when and how to back off that is the key. Try putting your foot down when they are in a good mood and are conversational. Your teen is much easier to approach, less defensive, and in the 'adult' mindset when they're happy. This takes acute awareness in the timing, and also courage to 'go with' the mood. Timing's all important.
What about the youth who always seems to get it wrong? It's a time of life when they'll take chances, let's face it. And this doesn't account for the youth with very low self-confidence.
I find the easiest way to remain patient and not to judge a teen is by simply employing competency-based learning principles. Competency-based training employs the philosophy of competent / not-yet-competent. It 'deems' the 'candidate,' (i.e. the trainee) "competent" or "not-yet-competent." This is intrinsically fair in that they will never actually fail. They just get another turn at getting the thing right that they find so difficult or just don't have the skill in yet. Say it's having a tidy room or doing homework. Or say it's a cell (mobile) phone; they run up an enormous bill, and demonstrate their inability to manage the usage of it. They're not-yet-competent, that's all. It means having the patience not to blow your stack. It means giving them more opportunities to succeed and not be too fearful of failure, especially when they're trying. It's a way of gradually letting them have responsibility; it's self-paced; it's 'their-paced.'
With this approach you need to be wise around when to give them further chances, so as not to set them up for further failure. You also need to be in dialogue with your youth-aged son or daughter. Again, find a time when they're approachable and talk to them about it.
Parenting is no easy task, especially when you have a teenager. No one promised an easy ride. But take heart. You can and will succeed if you don't give up, and remain 'teachable.' Be there for your children and you can one day reflect on your success as you watch your children dealing with their own children, and going through the same sorts of issues you went through.
© 2008, Steven John Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide.Steve Wickham is a safety and health professional (BSc) and a qualified Christian minister (GradDipDiv), and a former youth worker. He is also has training and leadership Diplomas. His passion in vocation is facilitation and coaching; encouraging people to soar to a higher value of their potential. Steve's key passion is work / life balance and re-creating value for living, and an exploration of the person within us. His highest goal is doing God's will, in enhancing his life, and the lives of others. Article Source: Article Source: