Arresting Your Teens / Yadult’s Bad Behaviour

We all suffer from lazy and selfishisness.  It’s human nature and Teens especially are experts at getting the best deal in life (albeit at the expense of others)! 

We All Ask Two Questions

  1. What’s in it for me? It doesn’t matter about anyone else.
  1. How much can I get away with? What is the bare minimum I can do?

Teen version:

  • How late can I get up and still be on time for school?
  • How messy can my room get before Mum does her nut?
  • How little can I study and pass exams?
  • How badly can I treat my parents and siblings and still get what I want?

Parents own worst enemy

Many parents allow their teens’ lack of planning to become their emergency. They also do for their kids what they should be doing for themselves which exacerbates the problem and causes huge resentment in parents.

If allowed, teens think they are guests in this world rather than hosts – consumers and not contributors. They believe the world and more particularly their parents owe them!

Why is Your Teen Aggressive, Sneaky or Antisocial?

Here are some contributing factors:

  1. No Dream or Direction
  • Struggling with school and study
  • Nothing to look forward to – could be depressed
  • Unsure of their strengths and gifts
  • Significant disappointment such as not passing exams or not being chosen for the team.
  1. 2. Broken Relationships
  • Rejection (or perceived rejection) from a friend, someone they look up to or from you
  • Being bullied – lashing out in retaliation at anyone other than the bully
  • Heartbreak from a romantic relationship ending badly
  1. Trauma
  • Divorce, death, injury, sickness or abuse
  • Big change – moving cities or a parent remarrying or moving in with their partner
  • Extreme pressure from school or friends – just cant cope
  • Shame and guilt – hiding a secret
  1. Weak Character or Living Poorly
  • Attitude of entitlement – expects to get their own way
  • Lacks basic living skills
  • Never been taught how to resolve conflict in a non-violent way
  • Drugs or alcohol that alter their thinking patterns

Now that you know what may be causing their bad behaviour – it’s helpful to observe the methods they use to get what they want. These are not restricted to young people and often carry on into adult life. ( They may even have learned their practices from you – just a thought!)

The following tactics might get results but will kill trust and weaken relationships. Parents who are badly treated usually feel demoralised and on guard. Their hearts simply become weary from parenting.

Teens ‘Standard Operating Practices’ (SOP) to get what they want

  1. ‘I don’t like you’

Threaten to withdraw affection and approval if they don’t get what they want. This really hurts parents.

  1. Negotiate Down

Start with a ridiculous or extravagant request and then ‘do parents the favour’ of downgrading it to what they really wanted in the first place.

  1. Badgering

Wearing the parent down with the same request. How many ways and how often can you ask for the same thing? He who has the most stamina wins!

  1. Loser

Make the parent feel like they aren’t in tune with the rest of the world. They might even tell lies about what ‘everyone else is allowed to do.’

  1. Diversion

Create another problem so that the main one diminishes by comparison, and the parent is distracted from the real issue.

  1. Blame

‘It’s not my fault I’m in this terrible predicament.’ It is always everyone else’s fault. For example, they lost their cell phone down the toilet because the pockets on their pants were too big (not because they were as drunk as a skunk)!

  1. Comparison

‘You should be grateful that I am not as bad as him or her!’ Compare themselves to someone who is just short of being an axe murderer.

  1. Saviour

‘If you don’t rescue me I will be humiliated or disadvantaged. My future depends on you agreeing to my request’ – just another form of emotional manipulation.

  1. Charmer or Con-artist

Temporarily pretends to be nice, compliant or attentive. But if they don’t get what they want, this ‘sucking up’ can turn into abuse in a heartbeat.

  1. Quiet Destroyer

Passive aggression is when the they appear to be compliant and connected, but underneath they are scheming how to hoodwink the parent or how to retaliate in a way that cannot be pinpointed. Being habitually late or ‘forgetting’ to do what is asked are sometimes examples of passive aggressive behaviour.

When you know your Yadult’s strategies – you’ve got a better chance of outsmarting them. On the flip side – you can do a lot of things to undermine your authority and cause teens to lose confidence in your parenting.

Teens / Yadults Top Dislikes of their Parents

  1. Nagging

That consistent high pitched voice (usually Mum) who demands attention at the most inconvenient times. ‘I’ll do it my own time’, says the teen. History tells the parent that it wont get done. Nagging just shows that you have no authority or have not explained yourself properly.

  1. Not clear on what Parents expect

They don’t really know what they are supposed to do. Many parents just don’t communicate clear expectations. This complaint links closely to nagging. My advice is to ‘Be Fair, Be Clear and put it in Writing. This includes when and how you want a job done. Be very specific.

  1. Inconsistent Parenting

‘Some days Mum can be like Hitler in a skirt but other days she wants to be my friend. I never know which it will be.’

  1. Unrealistic restrictions

Teens hate being out of step with their friends. Some parents are too inflexible, but my experience is that teens will exaggerate what other people are supposedly allowed to do.

  1. Their Parents don’t trust them

Teens think that once they have been punished for a misdemenour that they should be back in a position of complete trust on that issue. They don’t understand that they can be forgiven in an instant but trust needs to be rebuilt over time.

What should you do When Your Teen / Yadult Acts Up?

Always consider how you may have contributed to your yadult’s bad behaviour. Have you indulged your kids or not expected enough from them? Are both parents divided in their approach? If so, don’t be afraid to ask for forgiveness if you feel you have let them down.

Remember that you are the parent, so don’t let your yadult hold you hostage to the apology. At the same time, show compassionate leadership. If you are angry, calm down before dealing with your yadult, and then approach them with a heart at peace rather than a heart at war. A heart at peace cares how the other person feels and is willing to really listen to their side of the story – while making sure you don’t get sucked into any lies.

A heart at war sees only their own side of the argument. It objectifes the other person and then ‘horribilizes’ that person to justify why you are right and good and they are wrong and bad. It’s almost impossible to reach a win / win outcome if either person has a heart at war. Your kids may take this approach because they feel like the under-dog, trapped and unable to express themselves intelligently.

Ideally when your yadult messes up, they fess up and then fix it up. Your job is to create an atmosphere where this can happen. Try not to let your ego get in the way. We’ve got too many young people not owning up and not being truly sorry (repentent), which means they can’t learn from the experience and be restored in relationship. This just adds layers of shame and guilt (or they could become more of a narcissist). The end result – they are disconnected from their parents and very often friends too.

What does the situation require?

Does your teen need an attitude adjustment, to be taught a skill or do they just need some parental wisdom to help with better decision making? Perhaps they need professional help. You can’t train what requires treatment!

Giving in and sweeping the problem under the rug is not going to help them, you or society, so think about where this pattern of behaviour will lead if left uncorrected. You may have to make a really hard call. Real love protects and perseveres with the truth and it always does what’s right (not convenient or popular) for the other person. Love doesn’t cover up lies.

If you are going to give a consequence think about how you will implement it before blurting it out. You look like a fool if you scream out a ridiculous consequence and then have no way of enforcing it. Respond with what is right but don’t retaliate. A heart at peace looks to the wellbeing of the person rather than gaining revenge.

Footnote: If your teen / yadult is physically aggressive and you feel in danger, call the police immediately.

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