Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Q&A -- snotty teenagers

I am struggling with my teenager and am curious about your strategies to deal with the "snotty" teen girl attitude?   She is a doll to everyone outside of the home.  She is a great kid.  However, to her siblings and me she is often snotty and rude.  I have tried taking phones and computers away.  Yelling (not proud, but it burns my hide)   I have spoken to her about church (we are Catholic) and the camps she attends and how this is not a behavior that is positive.  I have tried everything.  This week I am making her write love letters (a church thing) to her siblings and me to try and make her attitude more positive.   I have had many conversations making sure everything is okay in her life.

Her attitude truly sets the tone in the family and lately it has been nasty.  I am truly at a loss and need some help.  Any suggestions???  

I just asked Dave what his suggestion would be on this and he said, "call her normal."  Ha!  

I wish I had the perfect answer for this.  All teenagers are just so different and all of us who parent them have wrung our hands in frustration just like this at one time or another (I can so relate, and I'm sure you and I aren't the only ones!).  But here are my thoughts:

The biggest thing that I have found to work with my kids is kind of ignoring the negative stuff as much as I can and giving really positive affirmation when they do something great.  I think teenagers are the same as toddlers (and any kids for that matter!) in that sometimes they'll do anything for attention, even if it's negative attention they're getting (us being mad at them).  So if I try to really notice and praise the things they're doing that I love it tends to drown out the snotty stuff...SOMETIMES.  

That is not to say that sometimes kids don't need a swift kick in the rear (not really, but you know what I mean) because they do.  Someone told me once that teenagers are all about themselves, and I've found that a lot of the time that is true.  It's natural because they are just trying to figure out who those "selves" are which takes a lot of time and attention on their part.

But what they don't realize (and it's so tough to get it through to them) is that they are happiest when they forget themselves and worry about others instead.  It sounds like your daughter already has this outside the home which is awesome.  Maybe you can praise that and tell her how much you admire it.  Maybe you can let her in on some things you're worried about about the other kids and ask for her help.  And maybe she will roll her eyes at you (which my daughters do from time to time!).  But if you're patient with it and do your best not to let your emotions get involved it may make a difference.

I just think it's hard as moms to truly understand what hormones and crazy things are going around in these girls' heads.  There is so much social media to make them feel like they don't measure up to others portrayed as "perfect" out there.  There is pressure at school to do well.  There is pressure from friends to be and act certain ways.  And to top it all off they haven't had enough life experience to really know how to handle it all in a positive way.  So they take it out on their families where they feel the safest.

This isn't fair, and they need to know that, but they also need so badly to feel that unconditional love...that kind that tells them that we love who they are no matter what but not what they are doing, and they need to fix it.

I also think it's really important for kids to know how we feel.  Whether it's how much we love them or how much something they're doing hurts our feelings.  I've found at least in my own little neck of the woods, that notes are great for this.  In fact, I've been meaning to write one to one of my kids for a long time and need to get on that today.  I wrote one to Elle a while back when I realized I was putting too much pressure on her...just a little note filled with how much I love her.  She posted it up on her mirror for a long time.  Maybe that was a sign that it meant a lot to her.  Or maybe she was just trying to make me feel good :)  For whatever reason, she saw that note every day for a good while and I hope it reminded her how much I love her. 

I think every "problem" we have in parenting can be solved with Christ-like love, but that kind of love doesn't mean we just roll over and let kids walk over us.  We have to have rules in place of what's acceptable and what's not and figure out consequences if those rules are broken.  It's helped in our family to let the kids help decide what those "consequences" are.  If you talk it all through with her and tell her your plan and let her come up with consequences, maybe that will help.

Also, never underestimate the power of a good hug. Sometimes, even when they don't deserve it and we least want to give it, kids need physical touch from someone who loves them most.

Oh, and I almost forgot to say my most important thing I've learned in parenting...the most powerful tool...is prayer.  I know there's a God in Heaven who cares about these kids.  He wants them to succeed.  He wants US to succeed.  So He will guide us to know what to do if we ask.  It may not be right when we pray.  It may be a prompting in a line at the grocery store or watching a soccer game or changing the laundry.  If we let our mind be quiet for a minute and think specifically about that child and we have prayed our guts out for guidance it will come.

I know so many have so much better advice than I do...and that's when comments come in handy to share.  If you have any great words of wisdom for all of us mothers send them my way and I will try to share them here if I get a chance.

Lots more about teenagers (some of it I just realized is similar to what's here... I must need to re-learn this stuff a bunch) over HERE.

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