Tag Archives: Critical thinking

Help! My Child Has Become a Teenager

Child angry at parentsIt seems like it happened all at once.  One moment you were praising your kid for being so good and the next thing you know he/she is a completely different child in a foreign looking body.

Not only are the clothing choices a bit different but the shoe size is rapidly increasing, the attitude is becoming disturbing, the vocabulary adds new shock value, the interests are unusual, and your once sweet child became a hormonal teenager with mood swings so high and low you need a score card to keep up.  To make matters worse, parenting is stressful as you and your spouse don’t see eye to eye on what is normal teenage behavior and abnormal teenage behavior.

Beginning at age twelve, your child develops critical thinking skills which literally transforms your child’s mind from being receptive to your opinion into questioning your opinion.  The goal of this age is to help your child develop strong critical thinking skills not to impair them during the process.

You can impair them by demanding that everything be done your way without questioning and without explanation.  While this is practical at a younger age, it is not during the teenage years where peers begin to have a greater influence than before.  Think about it for a second, which would you rather have: a teen who questions what others tell them or a teen who believes everything others tell them?

Hormones.  Imagine PMS times 10 for a teenage girl or a mid-life crisis times 20 for a teenage boy, now you have a better understanding of the intensity of hormones running through their body.  No, this is not justification for poor behavior but it does explain the origin of the mood swings.  It is hard to remember that these hormones are new to your child. Afterall, it took you many years to become use to your own emotional mood swings and it will take many years for your child to adjust as well.  This is a process, not a one-time event and expecting anything less or more immediate will only intensify your frustration.

Respect.  Your once respectful child is likely to become disrespectful with you lately for unknown reasons.  With such repeatedly poor behavior it is easy to make your child’s disrespectful attitude the subject of nearly every conversation. This is unproductive.  Instead, begin with the end goal in mind of having a good relationship with your child. Pay attention to what your child is really saying rather than how they say it.  Really listen to your child by finding some area of common agreement however small, then address the disrespect.  Your child will be more likely to positively respond to your requests after you have heard theirs.

Love.  I Corinthians 13:4a says that love is first patient and then kind.  As your child’s parent, you must first be patient with them and then kind.  This means that no matter how long it takes for your child to demonstrate a loving attitude towards you, you must continue to patiently wait for them with kindness in your voice.  This is loving behavior that is fitting for a parent.  It does not mean that your child can walk all over you and be repeatedly rude. It does however mean that when your child is rude, you don’t return the rudeness but act lovingly.

Discipline.  The days of time-outs are over. If you don’t know your child really well, you will not be effective in disciplining them now.  For instance, if video games are your child’s thing, then taking away the video games as punishment is effective.  But you can’t take it away all the time or the punishment will lose its’ effectiveness.  Basically you must have a variety of interests which you can draw from when needed.  Yet you also need an absolute bottom line such as boarding school, reform school, or some alternative program always in your back pocket and ready to bring forward when needed.  If it comes to this, don’t back down, that is not loving behavior.

Teenagers are an interesting group of people and no matter how difficult you might struggle with them; they are well worth the effort.  One day you will look back fondly on these years and perhaps gain a couple of really good stories to share with their kids one day.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

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Lessons Learned from Children: The Value of a Working Mom

supermomSometimes the most meaningful moment as a parent comes in the middle of another conversation, has little to nothing to do with the topic at hand and is uncharacteristically transparent.  Looking back on the moment you wish there had been a bright shining light calling your attention it so you could take it in more slowly and savor every second.  But time marches at the same pace and without reflection, the significance of those moments is often lost and the power to heal old wounds is never realized.

I had such a moment with my fourteen year old son which by itself is shocking.  As the filter in his ADHD brain telling him not to comment on certain things is underdeveloped even for his age while his critical thinking skills far exceed his age.  This combination makes for very interesting and frequently frustrating conversations and since he loves to talk there is no shortage of either.  This week he shocked me with, “I’m glad that you are a working mom” and since he often complains how difficult his life is, I asked for further clarification to which he responded with the following points.

“You don’t schedule your life around me.”  Talk about a shocking statement coming from a fourteen year old boy who frequently complains of having no ride to the activity of the week and believes the world revolves around him!  He further explained that in speaking with some of his friends whose mother chooses to rearrange her schedule to meet their wants and desires, he now sees his friends have a skewed view that life is all about them (yes, he did say that, I’m not making it up).  If fact, he came home so astonished that his friends got whatever they wanted with no regard for how their friend’s wants and desires impacted the rest of the family.  By setting the standard that life is not about his wants and desires (no matter how hard he fights against this), he has learned to be less selfish.

“You work hard.”  It is both frightening and encouraging to understand that children learn more from what is done rather than what is said.  My son recounted a conversation he overheard from two mothers who were commenting on how difficult it must be to work and go to school at the same time.  My son, having experienced this first hand with his mother (me), he was shocked to discover that not every mother did this.  He then explained that by demonstrating what can be accomplished he had the motivation to work hard as well (yes, we are still struggling with his lack of motivation but there are these glimmers of hope).  By setting an example of hard work (it is important to note it is the example that is significant, not the words), he has learned self motivation.

“You and Dad don’t waste time.”  By far this was the most confusing statement from my son especially since he seems to have little regard for his own time management.  He then admitted to spending quite a bit of time listening in on adult conversations and from what he learned, he then made this observation.  When time is a rare commodity, there is less gossip (his words) and more engaging discussions.  Apparently, the conversations he overhears between his parents are deeper and more meaningful because there is less time to talk compared to the conversations of adults he overheard who had more time and therefore gossiped more.  By placing value on quality time and conversation, he has learned not to gossip.

Probably the hardest part of knowing that my son has learned these valuable lessons is understanding that he will frequently forget these lessons and become selfish, unmotivated and a gossip on occasion.  However by continuing to set standards, living by example and placing value on the important things of life, the lessons can be continually reinforced and hopefully will make a positive difference in his life.  As an added bonus, these lessons in turn encouraged me to keep going and greatly reduced the guilt often felt as a working mom.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

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