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Six Tips to Help Avoid a Fight with your Teenager

May 25, 2008
For 13 years you have slaved and worried. You have changed diapers, nursed them through chickenpox, cried on their first day at school, cheered for them in the school Christmas play, patched up skinned knees, and packed their lunch box for their first day at secondary school.

Surely those were the hardest years? Now they are growing up. Now they are a bit more independent, a bit more mature, surely things will get easier? They are big enough to help out with some chores. They can look after themselves for an evening if you want a well earned night off. You can have sensible conversations with them.

How come what happens next is that things change when your child goes through their teenage years? What happens? In some societies, a 13 year old would be thought of as an adult. They could work in the government and even marry. This is not the case in Western society. Teen years in the Western part of the world are stricken with with conflict and struggles.

There are two parts to the answer: biology and culture.

The brain is intricate. It is in a great state of growth and development during the teenage years. It is always growing, expanding, evaluating, and making links. These links build the foundation for memory, learning, perception, and social rationale.

During the first twelve years the brain learns a lot - it changes the child from a non-verbal, poorly coordinated baby to a verbal, literate, sociable and pretty competent pre- teen.

Then the teenage years hit the brain like a tornado. The brain goes into a state of shambles after which it rebuilds itself. While your brain is rebuilding itself your child might not be able to do some of the things they could before. For example, speaking to the opposite sex has suddenly become virtually impossible without becoming quite nervous. Throughout the teen years your child will need to understand the components of social interaction and how they fit into the whole social scene. They will make friends and strive to find their sexual ife partner.

Comprehending the ins and outs of the social scene can be difficult for their teenage brain. Their brain goes back and forth between its methods of operation during their pre-teen years and how they are expected to act as teens. This tug-of-war can make the social behavior of a teenager inconsistent and sometimes perplexing.

Add in to this a healthy dose of fluctuating sex hormones, plus some classical teenage sleep deprivation, and is it any wonder that more often than not they seem to be "loaded for bear"? Watch out, lest they bite your head off for no apparent reason!

Teens also have to deal with the different expectations placed on them now that they are teenagers. They hear every day from many sources that they "should" be doing certain things and the definitions between normal and abnormal. Expectations for how they should act during each year of their teenage experience is detailed by their parents, friends, teachers, police, and society. It can be hard for a teenager to discern exactly how they should act when they have all these people forcing their opinions on them.

But there is a problem with expectations. Every time you have one, you have the potential for a problem. A behavior is only a behavior; until someone says that it "should not" be happening. Then, suddenly, it is a problem.

The combination of the varying expectations, sex hormones, and plain teenage angst cause your teenager to act like an angel one minute and a scounderel the next.

How do you cope with a teenager that is up and down in their emotions and actions? You can use some of these tips. When you have a fight with your teenager or you are just sick of what they are doing, take heed of the following:

1) Arguing and shouting won't work

2) Your teenager wants to have the best outcome as well. They are relying on the extent of their perceptions and skills which could be far different from yours.

3) It is important to note that your teenager is still trying to understand their role in life and also may not understand either why the two of you are fighting.

4) Whose problem is this? Whose agenda? What, exactly, will happen if the outcome of all of this is opposite to your desires? Does that *really* matter, in the grand scheme of things?

5) Try to think of different ways of working with your teenager besides forcing them to take your point of view.

6) Remember, your teenager will outgrow the teenager years eventually. Think about the future and how you will want to remember this time in your lives.

With that being said, it is a good idea to have rules and expectations. However, don't get so uptight. Don't be so strict that your teenager wants to avoid you. Determine how to have fun together so you can both get through the teenage years with smiles on your faces and love in your hearts.
About the Author
Fed up with your teenagers' behavioral problems? Get some answers on Dr. Noel Swanson's Teenage Behavior Problems website and get a FREE one-hour audio packed with expert advice.
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