What to Do About Your Teenager’s “Eye-roll”
Teenagers resent unsolicited attention and advice. They strive to appear grown-up, independent, and self-sufficient. They need to feel capable of finding their way without parental direction. Help is perceived as interference, concern as babying, and advice as bossing.
Living day-in-and-day-out with teenagers in the midst of their identity search is one of the greatest challenges you will confront. Yet endure it you must because it is this process of conflict and confrontation that enables them to move to their next stage of life. It is a great help if you understand that there is a purpose for all the turmoil. Defiance, in your teenager's mind and challenges to your love is their bumpy pathway to autonomy.
During this time of natural disorganization and hormonal upheaval, your teens are individuating from the family and developing their own values. Preservation of your own values and demonstration of your faith in their ability will provide tools for their success. If you choose your battles carefully and maintain your child’s respect for your important rules of sobriety and safety and for the values you have embraced throughout their lives, you’ll keep them on track.
It is around the teen years when children stop asking the questions that were so abundant when they were younger starting with, “Where does the sun go at night?” Actually, they stop asking questions and volunteering much when we ask about their day at school or their social events, because they perceive that we are not really listening.
First wait until they are finished speaking and then, before responding, repeat back what you believe they said…without emotion or judgment in your tone. “Okay, I think you are saying…” By repeating the gist of their statements you show you have listened well and you help them identify their feelings.
As teens seek more privileges, freedom, money, or privacy parents, ever vigilant, worry about the possibility of falling grades, substance abuse, or increased sexual activity that could potentially follow if they acquiesce to these requests. Rather than let your anxieties force you to become overly restrictive, be flexible when you can. By giving teenagers choices you make them more aware of their power AND responsibility. In turn, the sense of control they feel over part of their destiny gives them more opportunities to consider alternatives and build self-confidence.