Anywhere between ages 11 and 13 the strangest thing happens to your child. Suddenly, though you still recognize his physical appearance, the attitude he begins to sport isn’t one you’d normally permit through the door, let alone allow to take up full-time residency behind a bedroom door that's — more often than not — shut tight.
Who are you and what have you done with my child?
It’s a question many parents of tween/teens find themselves asking. We are dumbfounded by this change. We simply don’t know who our kids have become.
Oh, yeah, I can relate. My son turns 14 in the middle of July. Lately, he and I seem to be getting reacquainted on a regular basis as I attempt to adjust my parenting methods to his increasingly changing needs. Guess what, folks: I am not keeping up.
Over the past year or so, I keep wondering what happened to my sweet little boy, the one who used to crawl up into my lap and beam at me with his big bright blue eyes and say, “Mommy, rock you,” as his way of letting me know what he wanted.
That little boy, I at least know, grew up to be a sweet elementary school student. So then I wonder, "What happened to the kid who liked singing along to the Larry Boy soundtrack in the car with his mom?"
Oh, yeah, that one is growing up too. Duh, mama bear. You knew this was going to happen.
But does he have to have such an attitude? I mean seriously. Doesn’t he still love his mother? Why does everything have to be such drama? The kid has a closet full of academy awards already:
Best Melodramatic Moment at School.
Best and Longest Drawn Out, “MOM” Ever Heard
Best Huff and Puff.
Best, “Mom, I Knew You Wouldn’t Understand.”
Ouch, buddy. That one really stung.
I try to employ the advice given out by Leanne B: “Sometimes you need to take a few steps back and remember what you were like as a teenager,” she shares.
Oh, no, do we have to go there? Geez, was I this bad as a teen? Oops, before we ask my parents, I already know the answer. I was awful enough to my mom that I once asked her to take my friends and I downtown to go shopping but only if she would walk on the other side of the street. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked her to forgive me for that one.
But nostalgia for our own teen years will only get us parents so far in our current battle with our own teens and their 'tudes. We need a real game plan.
Here are some suggestions from other Circle of Moms members:
- “Stand your ground and remain firm when it comes to your rules for him,” advises Tanya S.
- “...have a lot of extra patience and they will get through it,” states Sherri C.
- “First thing I recommend is a very deep breath. Take a bubble bath if it helps. Take care of you. No, I am not crazy. I know you have to actually deal with him, but you have to be in the right frame of mind to do that. That means you are calm and reasonable, tolerant without losing your self respect,” suggests Gail P.
So I guess yelling at the top of your lungs is out of the question? Too late, I already discovered that it doesn't work. (Sure felt good for a moment or two though.)
Does Taking Away Privileges Help?
Next tactic: take away privileges. Make it something they really want such as video game or computer time. Maybe the cell phone. Wait -- on second thought, we need them to have that so we can keep tabs on them. Hmmm.
“I started taking away extra activities for attitude issues,” writes Tammy B.
And it better be something you can follow through with, or as Mary L. advises, it won’t work.
Here is how the process works in her world:
“Just stay calm but maybe give a warning that a privilege will be taken away. If he does not behave (and he probably won't) then you must follow through and take away the privilege. This is the hard part. Do not choose something that you can not follow through with. Be firm. Kids need parents with backbone,” she states.
You're Still in Charge
Michelle M. agrees, but it was a bit of a climb to get there. She stands only five foot four to her son’s six foot two frame, and reports that “I found this intimidating and I was always backing down just by pure size alone. Then I decided I am his mum and he needs my strength and determination, not my size.”
So, now she stands on a chair for verbal confrontations, meets each of his raised eyebrows with ones that go higher, and rolls her eyes back in their sockets even further than he does.
“He says I am annoying, but at the end of the day, he leans over to kiss my cheek to say goodnight,” she shares.
Oh, yes. There are the moments when I see that my son still loves and respects me. He still wants me to come to his bedside to say goodnight, although it no longer is called “tucking in.” It's more like a blow by blow recap of his day. He’ll still blow me a kiss when I leave the room. Shockingly enough, when he left for the bus trip to camp last week, he got a window seat and blew a quick one to me as I stood alongside the bus. I knew better than to blow one back as the other guys would see that. I waved. He smiled.
Two days later, my cell phone rang from camp and I had to listen to how unfair everything was and do my best via long distance to give advice on how to break the bronco at his latest rodeo.
I take some solace in research indicating that the brains of teens go slightly haywire for awhile.
Their Brains are Being "Remodeled"
Okay, that’s not how the professional researchers describe it. But the gist of it is this: According to an article from Psychology Today magazine, “as puberty kicks in, a child’s ability to recognize other people’s emotions takes a downward turn.”
Sounds about right.
According to the article, researchers at San Diego State University tested the abilities of 300 kids between the ages of 10 and 22 to judge emotions depicted in images. The closer the kids got to their teen years, the slower their ability to recognize emotion became. This diminished capacity explains their social (and anti-social) behavior, the researchers concluded. It’s almost as if their brains undergo some sort of “remodeling” during the teen years.
Further research conducted at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, MD, seems to support this notion of teenage brain change.
As reported in the UK’s Telegraph, NIMH researchers followed the progress of 400 children by performing brain scans on them every two years. Researchers quickly discovered that as they entered the teen years, the children’s brains were actually “pruning” away about one percent of their grey matter each year. What was being “pruned” was the unused neural connections leftover from childhood growth spurts. “Among the last to mature is the very front of the brain's frontal lobe, which is involved in control of impulses, judgment and decision-making, which scientists say might explain some of the bizarre decisions made by the average teenager,” according to the article. (As teens became adults, thankfully, their brains adjust to this loss of grey matter.)
So, you see, it really isn’t their fault.
I watched this process occur with my now 26-year-old stepson, who was hell-on-two-legs as a teenager. I can happily share that he's become quite a respectable man.
I attribute much of my current teen's "tude" to the simple fact that he is combating hormones and trying to figure out his own identity. So, I pick my battles, as I agree with what Circle of Moms member Tammy B. states:
“I think it is part of the age. But that doesn't give him (or her) a free pass.”
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.