Abuse: The Only Language Your Son Seems to Understand
Being a parent of a troubled teenage boy is never easy. You’re likely no stranger to frustration and anger when your son acts out. Sometimes, you feel so stumped, so frustrated that hitting and screaming seem to be the only options for getting through to your son. But there are better solutions to these trying situations than violence.
In fact, that kind of abuse can actually make the situation worse. When children and teenagers face abuse as consequences to their actions, it becomes the only language they understand. They won’t respond to kinder requests, and more often than not, they’ll get into more trouble. Eventually, they’ll learn to use abuse as a form of communication with others: friends, partners, and children of their own.
Older generations claim that yelling and hitting were regular punishments in their home as a child so it’s fine to continue that style of punishment. But as years have progressed and family science and behavioral studies have evolved, we’ve seen the negative results of this style of parenting. As a parent, you have a responsibility to stop this cycle of corporal punishment. When you feel like hitting is the only option, try some of these things instead.
Stop The Yelling
A common misconception about child abuse is that it’s only abuse if it becomes physically violent. In reality, abuse is characterized by violent actions, neglect, and emotional abuse through angry words. All three of these are equally damaging to your son’s psyche, and they’ll do nothing to stop the problem.
When your son begins acting out, whether at school or at home, stifle the screaming. Yelling and screaming heightens emotions, creating a catalyst for physical aggression. Instead, use a quiet and calm tone as you talk to your son. Conversing with him like you would with another adult in conflict will do a number of things. First, your unexpected calm will catch his attention. Second, having to constantly focus on remaining calm will help you to think and act rationally. As you calmly discuss the matter at hand, you’ll be able to come to a better understanding of why the incident occurred, how you can navigate the situation, and what your son needs.
Third, as you approach every conflict between you and your son with a calm demeanor, your son will learn to expect a gentler reaction from you. This is a major stepping stone towards building trust and a feeling of safety in the relationship. Building trust with your teen is the only way to reach a point of meaningful conversation, learning, and loving.
Take a Parenting Class
Ignorance is one of the biggest enemies to cultivating a healthy relationship with your son. As parents, being left to our own devices and abilities is limiting. As all children listen and learn differently, gathering up different ideas about parenting provides you with an arsenal of helpful tactics when it’s time to handle conflict. You can often find classes that are free at local community centers, churches, and universities.
Besides classes, there is a wealth of information within a large selection of parenting books available. Sometimes when you’re in the heat of the moment, you forget what you’ve learned from your classes or online research. But as your continually reading and studying up on helpful parenting ideas, you’ll have information fresh on your mind as different situations arise.
Learn and Use Calming Techniques
Learn what helps you calm down in a particularly tense situation. For many parents, simply practicing breathing can help you relax and see the situation with a better perspective. The things that work best for you might be different from what works for other parents, but here are a few things you can try:
Take a walk.
Count to 10 before replying.
Listen to calming music.
Do some yoga.
Meditate on the situation before acting.
Remove yourself from the situation until you can react calmly.
The more ideas you have, the more likely you are to find a solution. But no matter what it takes, figure out how to return to a calm state of being so you can have a rational interaction without regrets.
Find Extra Help for Your Son
As you manage to relax your parenting style and still find you aren’t seeing significant progress with your teen, you might consider professional help. This could be regular individual counseling, enrolling in structured extracurricular activities, family therapy, or even sending him to a residential treatment center. Sometimes your son will struggle with behavioral issues whether you’re patient and calm or yelling and violent, and it takes professional help to better the situation.
At Sundance Canyon Academy in Utah, we have a successful treatment program that’s both effective and long-lasting. It’s a safe environment for your teenage boys to learn and grow together, recognizing their faults and coming out better for them. This may be the perfect solution to avoiding abuse in the home and keeping your son safe and happy.