Subject: Teen behavior
Thank you for your response to my questions. I want to try to answer your questions as honestly as I can. Both sisters were witness to their brother’s anger during his drug use. He punched holes in the walls of his bedroom. We were all very tired of him and it felt as though we were victims of his choices.
I spanked the children from time to time. Their father was not violent; he was unfaithful. There was some family counseling after our divorce. Maybe we don‘t know how to express our emotions. I’ll look into this. I’ve noticed since B’s older sister has been home from school, and the novelty of her being home has worn off, she sounds a lot like B. in terms of how she talks to me when she’s annoyed. She can be rather rude. I’ve pointed this out to her. By saying that she was better at flying under the radar I meant that I suspect that she may have done things that I wouldn’t have approve of but that I didn’t find out about.
My expectations are that the kids would treat me with respect and follow the rules I set for them. When they don’t, they get consequences. The consequences for B. are being grounded or loosing access to the computer. For her brother, the consequences are loosing the right to live at home. PMS might be one of the reasons that B. looses her temper and tries to attack me with words, but I don’t look at it as an excuse. She is still held accountable for the words as well as her actions.
I think I may avoid expressing anger, if possible, or until it’s no longer possible to ignore it. I think I might even discourage the expression of emotions in my children. I don’t like confrontations. I’ll try to look into this.
If this information changes, or incurs any additional advice you might give me, I would appreciate hearing what you have to say. Again, thank you for your time and effort.
Answer: Dear Josie,
I was truly impressed with your honesty and openness! I took courage to make this posting.
“think I may avoid expressing anger, if possible, or until it’s no longer possible to ignore it. I think I might even discourage the expression of emotions in my children. I don’t like confrontations. I’ll try to look into this.” Yes, yes, yes. This is a good first start as our children really can change and most of the time will only do so when they see us working on our stuff first. Expressing emotions is hard for most of us especially when we are not taught these skills as children. (Maybe get one of those children’s books from the bookstore which has all the feeling faces and the feeling words listed underneath to help identify what you feel and when you feel it. It can be difficult to just say, “I am angry.” so be gentle with yourself.)
One of the quickest ways I can think of to bring about dramatic changes quickly is to make a conscious effort to catch your children doing something right and immediately praise them for it. As many times a day as you possible can. It takes great attention to really make this happen however it will make all of you feel better and especially you as I sense you really want to turn this around.
Sometimes when teens behavior is escalating it is because on a unconscious level they are competing for our attention. [Even though they would never admit this to you, your opinion is still the most important opionion to them in the world. This is why they get annoyed, angry or irritated when when you don’t agree with them.]Try spending alone time one on one with them through out the week (I know it is a tall order when life is so busy, however even 20 minutes can make such a big difference). The time has to be just you and one of them, not two. I noticed with my own children when things started getting out of hand just focusing in on either of them seem to set things back to a peaceful environment.
Above all Josie, give yourself credit for taking on one of the most difficult and rewarding careers you will ever encounter, parenting!
Be kind to yourself as much as you can! Someday they will recognize how much you have put into being a parent.
M Kay Keller