If you have a teenager at home, you are familiar with the tension, drama, and hurt that can occur on a daily basis. It may often feel like your choices are limited to yelling and punishing them. You are not alone! Here are some things you can do to get back to engaged and positive parenting, no matter how your teen is behaving.
Give the Gift of Unconditional Love
Here at New Haven, we have witnessed something wonderful: When our students experience us experiencing them in a positive way, it changes everything. Their self-esteem instantly goes up, and their negativity goes down. To show your teenager unconditional love, try to find something positive in each interaction with her and focus on that. The change is amazing.
Don’t Make Your Love Dependent on Their Behavior
You may ask, “If I’m showing my teen unconditional love, aren’t they getting away with bad behavior?” The answer is NO! No one expects you to pretend your feelings aren’t hurt, or act like their negativity is acceptable. Loving your child unconditionally also means setting healthy boundaries and consequences. Plus, expressing when you are sad or hurt helps model healthy communication for your kids. You love them because they are your child, not because they act perfectly. This is hard for everyone so feel free to role playing with a therapist or friend. The practice will make these interactions much easier for your family in the future.
Empathy Makes Relationships Easier
Empathy may not make the interaction any less stressful, but it will help you have a positive perspective. When you remind yourselves why your daughter is acting that way, or what has happened in their lives to create this type of behavior, you are more capable of turning off the frustration and tuning into positive change.
How to Practice Positive Parenting
Here are some exercises you can to use to improve your positive parenting:
- Know and understand your daughter’s past. Ask yourself, “If I had gone through these same experiences, how would I feel? How would I act?”
- Know what your daughter is currently working on in therapy. Again, reflect on how you would feel if you had to face those similar issues? How would those feelings manifest as actions in your life?
- Establish healthy and consistent boundaries. Remember, just because your teenager is struggling doesn’t mean it is okay for them to act out.
- Reach out to your own support system and stay positive. Positive parenting is hard, especially if your teen is struggling emotionally. You don’t have to do it alone.
- Set aside your feelings and don’t take anything personally. When you realize the root cause of your teenager’s negative behavior, it is easier to understand that that behavior isn’t really about you. Most of the time, it is just their emotional pain coming out in unintentional ways.
Although these steps are simple, they are far from easy. However, it is crucial that your child experience themselves in a positive way through your eyes. You can work to understand them, set aside hurt feelings and focus on the positive. It is possible for them to develop into healthy, positive adults, and you can help get them there!