As a parent of a troubled teen, you want to make sure they know how much you care for them and keep them involved with the family. During the holidays, there can be an extra amount of stress on teens, plus added expectations on the part of parents. Hopefully, you and your teen have been building on a solid foundation of behavior and consequences, where expectations are clear and communication is taking place. Instead of approaching the holidays with a troubled teen with dread, take proactive measures to minimize the drama and conflict by following these six tips:
Tip #1. Communicate Expectations
If there are certain holiday events and traditions that will be taking place, don’t assume your teen knows all about them or will instinctively do the right thing. Always communicate well in advance about what is going on, because the holidays are full of new schedules and double booked events. It’s helpful to let your teen know about events, parties or other things with plenty of notice. Likewise, there are going to be certain special traditions that your family may do during the holidays that your teen may become stubborn about. Make sure your teen knows what is expected of them during the holiday season and communicate clearly about your expectations.
Tip #2. Make Compromises
Be realistic and know that your teenager won’t want to go to every single party, relative’s house or celebration. Instead, work together to select the two or three that are most important to you and to your teen and make it clear that they must attend. All the others should be addressed on a case by case basis.
Tip #3. Acknowledge Independence
Your teenager is working toward independence and should be able to make some decision on their own and not be compelled every step of the way. Giving teens some space to make their own decisions, from buying presents to attending events, for the holidays can make things go smoother. You can gain a lot of ground with a troubled teen and their control issues if you give some ground in order to gain some.
Tip #4. Establish Consequences Together
In a calm moment, talk with your teen about the house rules and the inevitable consequences of breaking them. During the holidays, it’s easy to overlook bad behavior and make exceptions in the spirit of the season. However, troubled teens need consistency and the holidays should not be an excuse to send mixed messages. If the teen’s behavior goes against your house rules, you must stick with the pre-determined consequences, no matter what the result or the exception for the holidays.
Tip #5. Build Memories
The things that your family used to enjoy around the holidays may not have the same appeal now that your kids are older. Try working with your teen to come up with new things to do and activities that appeal to older kids rather than fight to redo some tired old activities that no longer interest your teenager. You could be starting a whole new tradition that the whole family enjoys.
Tip #6. Set the Example
Your teenager may act like they don’t want to participate, but in reality they are watching you closely to see how you navigate the holidays. You’ll need to set the example and model the behavior you want to see. Everything from dealing with stress to making sure everyone feels loved and appreciated will be under review, so see that the actions and behavior your teen is seeing is what you want them to. You still have a big influence on your teen so be a good role model and that will help guide them through the next several years.