Is your teenager bullying you?
This problem is much more common than you think. Just think about it. Our world advertises that everyone should have everything they want, and yesterday is just soon enough!! The common wisdom says we should give our kids everything they desire. But is this the best message to send them? Our kids also know how to argue like a lawyer. They see examples of it on sitcoms and advertisements. To their way of thinking, it is easier to argue than do what we ask, for example, clean up their rooms. And why should they? It’s not on their agenda. Their rooms have everything they need. “Ground me to my room?! Awh gee!!” (no problem, I have a phone, a computer, video games, and all the toys/gadgets I need. I only have to come out for food/restroom). What incentive is there to follow the rules? Even school has no appeal for them. There are people there just trying to annoy them and make them work. If they need help, it is often hard to get since the teacher has to focus more on behavior issues these days. And the consequence of this lack of effort often takes several days to catch up to them.
So, what can be done? The answer is simple and hard to implement, but very powerful once put into place. Quid pro quo- simply put, this for that. If you assume that the teen doesn’t care about what we want (and often this is the case due to immaturity), you can arrange the environment to get the important things done first. “Want to play video games? Of course you can AFTER your room is clean.” (You might want to put the video games in the living room so you can enforce this.) Want to go to a party, Sounds good. FIRST I expect you to finish your homework and wash your clothes. (make sure the list of chores is a reasonable length.) “Want me to take you to McDonalds? I really don’t feel up to it since you insulted me earlier. Try again in two days.”
No argument is needed. If the teen follows you to argue, find a way to get him to stop. Pick up the phone to call a friend or relative (warn them you are going to do this). “Hi Betty, I was just wondering how your mother is doing…”, go to the restroom (and close the door), get in the car to go to the convenience store (alone), etc. The longer the argument, the more the teen believes he can get you to give in. Simple emotionally supportive statements can help. “I’m sorry you feel this way.” or ”I’m sure you’ll figure it out.” are good no answer –answers to their complaints.
Parenting is tough, but understanding what the problem is will lead to the correct answer. Finally, don’t beat yourself up if this is going on in your house. Kids learn these bad behaviors from all over, including family. Just commit to change your response (both parents) so you can get things back under your control; where everyone will feel better.