Effectively Redirecting Your Teens Negative Energy

Effectively Redirecting Your Teens Negative Energy

When you are living with a difficult or troubled teenager, life can seem like a never ending loop of stress, angst and anger. Negativity in a household has a serious emotional impact on everyone under your roof, and when that negativity is coming from your child it can be devastating. Feelings of rage, confusion, hurt and guilt are all normal responses from both parents and siblings. Unfortunately those emotions feed into the loop and exacerbate the issue, making the daily struggle even worse for everyone involved, including the original source.

In a time when suicide is the third leading cause of death in teens, and issues like drugs, violence and bullying are on the rise, parental anxiety is at an all time high. You may be worried about dangerous behaviors, or your teens mental health. Or your child may be on the brink of dropping out of high school, and you are concerned for their future.

The first step in correcting these behaviors and finding control in this difficult situation is understanding what may be causing their negative energy.

The Modern Teenage Brain

An interesting observation has been made by neuroscientists and behavioral scientists in recent years at Cornell University. According to BJ Casey, Ph. D, Department of Psychology at Yale University children are reaching puberty at earlier ages, and failing to reach adulthood until later years. The reason for this change in development isn’t entirely known, though environmental changes such as increased food intake and decreased activity are potential culprits. So are societal changes that dictate the role of young people in the community.

Findings of another study by Temple University scientists Jason Chein and Laurence Steinberg, in collaboration with Dustin Albert of Duke University, show that it also has to do with peer rewards. Teens are more likely to make decisions based on the calculated reward from their peer group. Often this perceived reward is unrealistic, leading to higher risk behaviors with greater consequences than they had anticipated.

A teen with Oppositional Defiance Disorder presents a whole new level of challenges for parents, siblings, and educators. 1-16% of school aged children have this disorder and children with ADHD are much more likely to develop ODD. Persistent bad behavior can disrupt a home, and in the case of ODD there seems to be no reaction to negative consequences.

As teenagers spend most of their time in the presence of other teenagers, controlling the problem can seem hopeless. Often parents will choose to enroll their child into a more controlled schooling environment that can handle extreme cases.

The Stress Factor

The Stress FactorStress is another major component to teenage negativity. School, fear of the future, strains at home, and conflicts in social circles can all contribute to negative thinking. Due to the often secretive nature of adolescents, it may feel like their attitude is coming from nowhere. But plenty of stressors may be happening in the background without your knowledge.

Your teen may not be getting enough sleep, which could add physical strain to the mix. Studies have found time and again that teenagers are chronically under rested. Sleep deprivation could lead to anxiety, irritability, mood swings, lack of cognitive function, overeating, and lack of focus.

Redirecting Your Teens Negative Energy

Now that you have an understanding of what your teen may be feeling, and why, it is time to look at some coping mechanisms that both you and your child can start incorporating into everyday life.

Remember It Starts With YOU

First, you have to let go of the idea that you are only reacting to what they are doing. While that may be true, it doesn’t justify your own negative behaviors in dealing with the problem. As the parent, you have a responsibility to maintain a cool head, and act maturely in the face of their rage.

Sometimes that may feel impossible. But try and remember the way your teen is feeling. Hormones, environment, anxiety, stress, lack of sleep and an uncertain future create difficult emotions. Your teen is not experienced or adult enough to know how to handle these emotions. It is your job as a parent to give them those tools to cope.

Practice Encouraging Behaviors

It is common for parents to fall into the trap of being overly critical of mistakes. Especially when those mistakes build and become regular patterns. Remember what we learned about teens reacting to a desire for positive rewards from their peers. That can also be applied to their desire for positive rewards from you, their guardian.

Try to focus on their strengths, not their weaknesses.

Think Of Your Child as an Individual, Not an Extension

Early in childhood children act much as an extension to their parents. As they grow, they gain independence and a will of their own. This can come off as defiance and rebellion, both a normal part of forming a sense of self during the teenage years.

Many situations are escalated due to a parent’s desire to force their child to behave as they would. This in turn pushes the teen to act out even further, pushing against the demands of the parent. Accepting that your teenager is an individual, and so will sometimes do things their own way, can keep the small problems from escalating and becoming big ones.

Start Fostering Positive Thinking Over Negative Thinking

Negative energy is often sparked by negative thinking. Working with your child to begin altering those thoughts can be the perfect starting point to reducing some of the negativity they surround themselves with.

For example, your teen may be thinking:

“I failed my history test, I am stupid and hopeless.”

You as a parent can say:

“You are struggling in history, but it’s possible to do better. I’ll help you and together we can studying the thing’s you’re struggling with.”

Or they may be thinking:

“Ashley hates me, we’re never going to be friends again.”

You as a parent can say:

“You are both upset right now. Give Ashley a day to cool off, and then talk to her. Conflict happens in every relationship but the two of you can work through it. I can help you if you’d like.”

These changes in perception show your teen acceptance and love, and offers them the attention they crave. Your time and care are the most important resources you have at your disposal.

You Can Positively Impact Your Teens Negative Attitude

positively impact your teen

Having a more thorough understanding of the issues your teen is facing can take a lot of the stress out of dealing with the problem. Often times they are frustrated with you when the root issue is something completely different. When this is the case, knowing that their negativity isn’t directed at you personally may alleviate much of the guilt and confusion surrounding their actions. If your relationship is causing stress, though it’s a challenging situation, knowing the cause for the stress is the first step to fixing the problem.

Once you as the parent have changed your own perception and methods for coping with the conflict you’re experiencing at home, you can begin to address your teens attitude and actions in a more positive and constructive way.

Learn more about how to help your struggling teen at Sundance Canyon Academy.