Though the overwhelming majority of teens are usually good kids, every last one of them is capable of displaying rebellious behaviour on occasion.
Rare outbursts can be chalked up to the difficulties of growing up, but when teenage behaviour takes hold, entire families’ lives can be disrupted by these young members.
Before the situation turns dire, however, there is much that parents can do to nip “teenage behaviour” in the bud before their children hit their teens.
Communicate with Children
One of the best ways to stave off “teenage behaviour” is to communicate clearly with your children from the start. No matter how young the child, all parents should do their best to give him/her their undivided attention each day and to truly listen to what the child is saying.
Once your family has gotten into the routine of sharing the details of your lives and talking through problems when they arise, teens will be more likely to take these routes rather than rebel or withdraw when they confront problems later.
Set Household Rules
Communicating household rules to your children is an important part of preventing teenage behaviour before the teen years. If children understand that there are rules to be followed – and why the rules are in place – then by their teenage years they are used to the structure that household rules provide.
In addition, children and teens who know and understand the rules will never be able to use the “but I didn’t know!” excuse.
One warning: household rules must grow with the children. As each member of the family grows and develops so too must the rules or else you all run the risk of leaving them behind.
Let the Punishment Fit the Crime
Of course no matter how open and communicative your relationship with your children, they will make mistakes.
Whether they refuse to finish dinner, steal someone’s favourite toy or knock down their sibling’s blocks, children should be disciplined in a way that is appropriate to their actions.
If this discipline becomes consistent, then by the time they reach their teens children will realise that not only are there consequences when they break the rules but that the bigger the rule that is broken the worse the punishment will be.
This can be a major deterrent from teens consciously making the decision to do something incredibly rebellious, not to mention dangerous.
Parents should also be aware that while they are able to discipline and/or punish their children, no actions should be taken that are purely retributive.
Remember, if a child or teen has broken a rule there is always the opportunity for them to learn something from the experience.
Any discipline that results should be rehabilitative, so that children and teens learn from their mistakes and hopefully will not repeat them.
Show Forgiveness and Love
After the rules have been broken and the punishment has been dealt, there is nothing greater that you can do for your child or teenager than show him/her that you have forgiven them and still love them.
If teens are secure in this fact and they realise that they will have your support in moving on from their mistakes, then it will be easier for the whole family to view transgressions as one off incidents rather than as a normal state of affairs.
Preventing “teenage” or rebellious behaviour begins from the moment a child is born. Creating an atmosphere in which family members communicate, as well as respect each other and the household rules, is imperative to preventing teenage behaviour.
Consistently disciplining children, and using these opportunities to teach something, is also a virtual requirement.
At the end of the day though, as a parent your job is to love your child and support them in their attempts and if you can do this then you will know you’ve done your job well.