Looking back at the past twelve months, you probably see a lot of conflict. When you have a troubled teenager in your home, every day feels like a fight, every night riddled with worry. As a new year approaches, you may feel burnt out and lacking hope for a better twelve months ahead. With the additional stress of the holidays, your emotional well being may be plummeting. You may even be considering more extreme measures to deal with the problem.
Don’t worry, it isn’t hopeless. You can have a better year with your child; think of this as a fresh start, a clean slate, and a chance to begin making the changes that will improve your teen’s behavior, and the life of your family. Chances are your teen is eager for such a shot, as well. They may not always seem as though they are impacted by their challenges in the same way you are, but you can be assured that they feel the sting of those actions. They are just out of control, and unable to get back on track alone.
Some Statistics On Modern Teen Behavior
The latest report of the lives of teens in America has been released. It gives us a picture of trends among the youth of the country, such as drug use, sexual activity, and violent crime. As you can see, some of those rates have dropped, while others have remained the same. Though we have to keep in mind that these figures are based on self reported data, and so many not be entirely accurate.
Unfortunately, what it also shows is that those rates are still very high among teens between 13 – 18. For example, marijuana use is now more common than tobacco use among US teens. Those who have teens who have struggled with negative behavior in the past are more likely to be within these reported groups of users, and so engage in other harmful activities.
Discussing this issue openly with your teen can be a great start to making better decisions in the coming year. Show them these statistics, and that drug use is declining as more information on the long term harm of chemical dependency becomes widely available. Show that both alcohol and marijuana are less popular among their peers. You may be surprised by the difference that fact makes.
Getting Through The Holidays
The holidays might be a particular source of stress for you. But it may also be a point of high tension for your teen, and you might notice an increase in acting out as they approach. This is a fairly normal response in children who have faced challenges that may have led to conflict or judgement from relatives in the past.
Compromise is key. You can’t keep your teen from seeing their relatives, nor should you try as it may make your child feel isolated and unwanted. What you can do is sit down and come up with a list of coping mechanisms that work for you both. Ask then what they think may help them keep their emotions in check, and get through the holidays enjoying themselves, and minimizing conflict with situations they might find difficult.
Some examples of holiday coping mechanisms could include:
Giving them permission to step away from everyone when they need to, in order to decompress during festivities.
Setting limits on how often they can use their phone, and requesting that they have X number of face to face conversations.
Allowing them to stay for only part of the festivities before going with friends, as long as they agree to be pleasant, well behaved, and interact with those relatives during the time they are there.
Inviting them to come to you and tell you when they are feeling overwhelmed/angry/sad/ect, so you can talk through those emotions.
By having a plan in place, you will both be able to relax and enjoy the holidays.
Keeping Safe On New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve has always been considered a time of celebration. It is also a time when crime is statistically higher, possibly due to the number of people out in the streets into the late hours, consumption of alcohol, and the emotional impact of the end of one year, and beginning of a new one.
Reading news stories, such as last year’s 2,000 reported sexual assault cases on New Year’s Eve in Germany can make you terrified for your teen. After all, they already engage in behaviors you know are risky. What additional threats might they face if they are out on that evening? How can you exert some control when they are so resistant to your influence?
Being open about your fears is one way. By making it a matter of your worry over their well being, rather than what they might do in an accusatory way, may be enough to make them willing to listen and take precautionary measures.
Another tactic is to suggest plans that you are loosely a part of. For instance, you might tell them you thought it would be fun on New Year’s Eve to go to a local event, and you think they should come and bring their best friends along.
Setting Goals For a Fresh New Start
With the New Year around the corner, it is time to sit down with your child and set some goals for the next twelve months. Here are some tips to get you started:
While some should be behavior based, they shouldn’t all be. For every ‘Stop breaking curfew’ or similar on the list, include one or two ‘Learn to ice skate’, or ‘Have a painting featured in a local art show’.
Keep goals realistic. When your teen is struggling, it can be easy for them to see a hard goal failing, and decide it means they are failures themselves.
Make the goals the rewards. Don’t promise an incentive like a shopping trip for reaching a goal. The point of a resolution is that the goal itself is the reward, an important lesson for your teen.
Find out more at Sundance Canyon Academy.