How Do I Know If My Teen Is Rebelling?

Teenage rebellion is not just about skipping class, staying out past curfew, or smoking anymore, now the rebellion has taken on new forms and looks considerable different from the past.  Understanding the early warning signs of teenage rebellion as opposed to normal development can make the different not only in your relationship with the teen but in their lives as well.  As a mother, former teacher and counselor of teens, I have observed three main areas of rebellion in teens.  Each of these areas is as important as the next and should be addressed.

Authority.  As part of the normal developmental process of a teenager growing into adulthood, teens become increasing aware of the numerous authority figures in their lives.  For a teen, the number of authority figures seems to multiply from parents to coaches to teachers to police officers to store managers to even older teens.  While during childhood the authority figures were for the most part respected, for some teens they all of a sudden seem to become disrespected as the child ages.

Rebelling against authority is open defiance of the rules established whether it is at home, school, athletic field or work.  This rebellion maybe obvious or it maybe secretive, either way it is rebellion against an authority figure.  The teen maybe staying out all night, not going to school, drag racing, sneaking out of the house, running away, drinking and driving, stealing from an employer, school or home, or destruction of property to name a few of the big ones.  Also look for the not so obvious rebellion symptoms such as rolling of the eyes, not making eye contact, intentionally dragging out an instruction, sleeping instead of working, and name calling.

Peers.  It may seem strange that this category would be included as a type of rebellion; however some teens do not have issues with the authority figures in their lives but rather with their peers.  It is normal for teens to experiment becoming friends with different peer groups especially as their interests and activities change.  Some teens do well with multiple peer groups while other teens struggle to fit into one peer group.

The rebellion begins at teens struggle to fit into a peer group that is not accepting of them so they act out against that group.  This can look like bullying on the surface and can resulting in fighting, backstabbing, and name calling.  Some teens switch peer groups repeatedly as a way to prevent anyone from coming too close to them.  In the end, they may experience isolation and lose of friends.  Other teens identify so strongly with one group, a gang, to the point that they are antagonistic to others who are not a part of their group.  All of this is rebellion towards their peers.

Self.  As teens struggle with forming their identity separate and apart from their parents, often times they do not like what they see.  Instead they began a self-loathing process that can rapidly become harmful behavior.  Their rebellion against themselves displays as hatred for how they appear, how they think, how they act and what they have become.  In order to feel better about themselves, they often engage in dangerous behavior to bring relief to the pain they feel.  This self-harming behavior can be cutting, excessive piercings, bingeing/purging, drugs (illegal and prescription abuse), gambling, alcohol use, and excessive risk taking.

If any of these areas sounds familiar, don’t lose hope.  The good news is that when rebellion is handled correctly, the impact on the teen’s life can be long-lasting.  Look for the article titled, “What to Do If Your Teen Rebels” for ideas on how to properly handle the rebellion.

For more information, watch this YouTube video:

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Struggling with your Teen? Try This

Child angry at parentsIt seems like it happened all at once.  One moment you were praising your kid for being so good and the next thing you know he/she is a completely different child in a foreign looking body.  Not only are the clothing choices a bit different but the shoe size is rapidly increasing, the attitude is becoming disturbing, the vocabulary adds new shock value, the interests are unusual, and your once sweet child became a hormonal teenager with mood swings so high and low you need a score card to keep up.  To make matters worse, parenting is stressful as you and your spouse don’t see eye to eye on what is normal teenage behavior and abnormal teenage behavior.

Beginning at age twelve, your child develops critical thinking skills which literally transforms your child’s mind from being receptive to your opinion into questioning your opinion.  The goal of this age is to help your child develop strong critical thinking skills not to impair them during the process.  You can impair them by demanding that everything be done your way without questioning and without explanation.  While this is practical at a younger age, it is not during the teenage years where peers begin to have a greater influence than before.  Think about it for a second, which would you rather have: a teen who questions what others tell them or a teen who believes everything others tell them?

Hormones.  Imagine PMS times 10 for a teenage girl or a mid-life crisis times 20 for a teenage boy, now you have a better understanding of the intensity of hormones running through their body.  No, this does not give justification to poor behavior but this does explain the origin of the mood swings.  It is hard to remember that these hormones are new to your child and while it took you many years to become use to your own emotional mood swings, it will take many years for your child to adjust as well.  This is a process, not a one-time event and expecting anything less or more immediate will only intensify your frustration.

Respect.  Your once respectful child is likely to become disrespectful with you lately for unknown reasons.  With such repeatedly poor behavior it is easy to make your child’s disrespectful attitude the subject of nearly every conversation but this is unproductive.  If you instead begin with the end goal in mind of having a good relationship with your child, then paying attention to what your child is really saying rather than how they say it becomes the priority.  Once you have really listened to your child by finding some area of common agreement however small, then you can address the disrespect.  Your child will be more likely to positively respond to your requests after you have heard theirs.

Love.  I Corinthians 13:4a says that love is first patient and then kind.  As your child’s parent, you must first be patient with them and then kind.  This means that no matter how long it takes for your child to demonstrate a loving attitude towards you, you must continue to patiently wait for them with kindness in your voice.  This is loving behavior that is fitting for a parent.  It does not mean that your child can walk all over you and be repeatedly rude, it does however mean that when your child is rude, you don’t return the rudeness but act lovingly towards your child.

Discipline.  The days of time-outs are over now and if you don’t know your child really well, you will not be effective in disciplining them.  For instance, if video games are your child’s thing, then taking away the video games as punishment is effective.  But you can’t take it away all the time or the punishment will lose its’ effectiveness.  Basically you must have a variety of interests which you can draw from when needed.  Yet you must also have an absolute bottom line such as boarding school, reform school, or some alternative program always in your back pocket and ready to bring forward when needed.  If it comes to this, don’t back down, that is not loving behavior.

Teenagers are an interesting group of people and no matter how difficult you might struggle with them; they are well worth the effort.  One day you will look back fondly on these years and perhaps gain a couple of really good stories to share with their kids one day.

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How Social Media Has Changed Dating

social networking

social networking (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Once upon a time, a guy would physically see a girl from a distance and become attracted to her and than approach her about going out on a date with him.  The first date most likely occurred without too much prior contact, sometimes with only one brief phone call (this is an actual phone call not a text or email) to discuss the schematics of the date.   But the first date was filled with much anticipation, as neither one really knew the other person and it was a toss of the dice to see if the initial attraction turned into a spark or fizzled out.

Now, things are different.  A girl sees a FB profile of a guy on-line and checks him out on his page and on LinkedIn before messaging him.  They begin to chat on-line, then text, then email and finally work up to a phone conversation long before the first date.  After a period of time, they agree to meet but have already learned so much about the other person that the date becomes the last part of the getting-to-know-you phase and not the first part.  This is precisely why social media has changed the way we date.

Attraction phase.  It is much easier to become attracted to a person on social media websites now because so many people use professionally touched-up photos or at the very least, the best photos they can find.  While a picture can say a lot about a person, it by no means says everything because you are the one interpreting the photo though your own perspective.  Basically, you can make a photo say whatever you want it to say just like you can interpret too much about a person based on one photo.  Don’t allow a photo to determine your level of attraction as you might be more or less attracted to the person when you finally meet them in person.

First-contact phase.  There are no real rules when it comes to who should initial the first-contact however, you should not be connecting with a person more frequently than they are connecting with you.  For instance, if you begin chatting with someone and they don’t respond right away, don’t be too quick to respond either.  If you do, you look desperate.  Rather respond an equal number of times to demonstrate that you are neither too eager nor too unavailable.  All forms of contact are appropriate but most begin with chatting, then texting, then email and finally phone calls.  This is a gradual process not a sprint.

Dating phase.  By the time you go on your first date, you should know quite a bit about the person you are expecting to meet in person.  By this time you already know that you like the other person and they like you, what you don’t know is if that spark on the phone will translate into a spark in person.  You also don’t know if the picture you have been seeing is real or imagined.  It is much easier to pretend to be something that you are not or something more than you really are when the person is not right in front of you.  It is much harder to do this in person, not impossible, just harder.

Social media has changed dating.  The “once upon a time” story will not return and “talking” has replaced “dating” as the new buzz word indicating an exploration of a mutual interest.  By the time a person is “dating” now, a relationship is already implied and exclusivity is expected.  Things are quite different from twenty years ago.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

What to Do If Your Teen Rebels

Rebellion in teens can be secretive or obvious depending on the personality of the teenager and the circumstances.  It can show itself as rebellion against authority, against their peers, or against themselves.  The article titled, “Symptoms of Teenage Rebellion” identifies some of the symptoms and breaks down each category of rebellion separating out normal behavior from abnormal behavior.  Once you have come to the realization that your teen is rebelling, than it is time to take action to help them overcome the destructive behavior.

Think.  The first step in helping you teen is to differentiate between normal teenage behavior and abnormal teenage behavior and address only the abnormal teenage behavior.  Leave the normal teenage behavior for another day.  Also, if your teen is in trouble for stealing from school and sneaking out of the house, then address one of the issues because the issues are not related.  If however, your teen is in trouble for stealing from school and destruction of property at school, then address the issues together.  Having a plan before you begin the conversation knowing in advance the range of discipline that will be given will give you confidence and help you to remain calm during the discussion.

Confront.  The second step is direct confrontation of the issue at hand.  Pay attention to the environment and the people around when beginning the confrontation.  While their friends are over, while their siblings are in the room, and without your spouse is not a good time for confrontation.   Rather choose a time that works for everyone and if needed, set a date.  Select a neutral ground in the home to have the discussion, neither their room nor your room are appropriate as these should be places of comfort.  As difficult as this may be, it is best to remain calm and unemotional during the discussion.  Tears and bursts of anger can be interpreted as manipulation and increase the tension and emotions of the conversation.  Keep the conversation on the one point you decided at the beginning resisting the urge to repeat yourself.

Listen.  During the conversation, remember that this is not a time for lecturing; rather this is a time for gaining insight as to the real reason behind the rebellion.  The type of rebellion should provide you with a clue as to what they are rebelling against but that it does not explain the why.  To discover the why of rebellion, you need to listen past the words to the heart of the matter while paying special attention to the emotion shown.  Look for body language to help you discover what is going on: do they look away when a topic is addressed, do they become angry at a comment made, do they shut down when you respond, or do they cry over what seems like a small issue.  Don’t be afraid to identify and inquire about the emotion: fear, anxiety, sadness, excitement, guilt, or surprise.

Remember.  At some point it may be useful to identify with the emotion your teen is feeling by remembering a time when you felt the same way.  Use this as an opportunity to bond with your teen by sharing an experience with them.  Oftentimes teens feel as though they are the only ones to feel a certain way and no one could ever understand them.  Just sharing a similar moment and becoming venerable in front of your teen demonstrates a heart of understanding beyond the disciplining.

Counsel.  Giving teens counsel is a tricky task because if they don’t feel like you really understand them, they won’t respond well to your counsel.  Instead of giving counsel to unwelcoming ears, postpone the conversation until another time and give your teen a chance to absorb the conversation.  This action alone demonstrates that you are more interested in helping them to grow than in blind obedience.  If they are willing to receive the counsel, then keep it short.  Better to get a small message across well then a long message out poorly.

Seek help.  If during the process it becomes apparent that your teen is not responding positively, seek help from a professional.  Choose a professional who has personal experience with teenagers, perhaps works with them in a coaching or teaching environment or has teenagers of their own.   The best help includes some parenting advice as well as counsel for the teen because it is better for everyone to be on the same page going forward.

Rebellion does not have to overwhelming and can actually improve and deepen the communication between the parents and the teen.  Use these moments to strengthen your relationship instead of creating a greater divide.

For more information watch this video.  

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

What is Behind High School or College Senioritis?

Do you have a senior from high school or college who seems to have shut down and is no longer productive?  Maybe they were productive in the past but now they are procrastinating, their grades are sliding, they don’t care about the things that mattered to them in the past and their tempers seem to be higher than normal.  Or perhaps they seem to negatively obsess over a class, another student, or a family member.  In short, your senior is different and not for the better.

Change is difficult for most people and transitioning from a high school student to a college student or from a college student into the workforce can be more change then they are prepared to handle.  Stress levels are high whenever someone moves but add to that a change in status, change in environments, change in friendships, and change in expectations.  Now you have a recipe for one stressed out senior.  So how can you help?  By paying attention to their behavior and acting accordingly you can alleviate some of the pressure.

Shutting down.  One reason a senior shuts down is because they are overwhelmed with anticipation over what is expected from them in the future.  Perhaps they have a scholarship to a college or job offers lined up and are anxious about living up to these new standards.  So instead of finishing strong, they retreat to a protective shell of sorts and stop performing altogether.  Begin by helping them admit that they are anxious and then try talking about a back-up plan if Plan A does not work to alleviate some of the anticipated pressure.  Finally, inspect your own expectations to ensure they are realistic and not unrealistic.

Procrastinating.  While one senior stops working altogether another one slows down their productivity to a crawl and frequently missed deadlines they would normally meet.  This procrastinating may be a sign that they are nervous about the upcoming change and they are trying to delay the change by moving slower.  At the subconscious level they are dragging everything out to make it last longer.  Unfortunately time moves on regardless of our actions.  Begin by helping them admit to the sadness they are feeling and allow them to reflect on the things they will miss going forward.  Give them the opportunity to spend extra time with their friends so they can begin the process of saying good-bye.

Negative obsessing.  Some seniors finish strong but seem to put all of their passions and negative energy attacking a class, teacher, fellow student or family member.  They obsess over things that never bothered them before and act in a manner inconsistent with their personality.  These students hyper focus their energy on one or two things to distract them from the negative feelings associated with their change.  Begin by identifying their target of negative energy and remind them of how they managed effectively in the past with their obsession.  Then discuss the other emotions such as sadness or anxiety they may be feeling and help them work through it.

Senior year can be an exciting time for students and the hope is that they will look back on their senior year with great memories.  By working with your senior and helping them to identify the stressful feelings they may be experiencing you will help to ensure a good memory instead of a negative one.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Teamwork at its Finest: Lessons Learned from Teens

Every now and then you get a chance to witness teamwork operating at its finest.  Usually this is found in sophisticated work environments or in places where adults have known one another for a long period of time.  I however have found it at a high school with a group of seniors who have come from a variety of backgrounds with enormous variations in economic and social status.

As a group, there is nothing special that stands out among them as evident in their number of 29 with the majority of them being males.  With the exception of a few, they are not the most intelligent, athletic or popular class.  Their personal interests are varied from medical school to marines, from marine biology to hunting, from football to dance, and from art to engineering.  Yet they get along with surprising contentment for their differences.  How?  There are three observations as to how they have accomplished this task.

Servant leadership.  One of the most striking features of this group is their ability to transfer leadership from one to another depending on the circumstances.  On the football field, one senior is the leader, in the classroom another senior is the leader, and when planning the social functions yet another senior is the leader.  The overall attitude of the group is to serve one another by serving the interests of the entire group instead of an individual.  Thus they are more willing to accept alternative leaders from within their class and work together by pooling from each person’s strengths instead of competing for center stage.

Respect for each other.  To be sure, there are times when there is tension in the group and one person feels disrespected by another, there may even be an occasional disagreement.  But when there is a disagreement, instead of taking sides, the group tends to encourage each one to come back to the group and not allow the disagreement to destroy the unity.  This in turn allows an individual to admit their faults, feel accepted and more importantly prevents them from “losing face” in front of their peers.  In the end, all is forgiven and respect for each other is willingly returned.

Focus on the group.  The above two observations occur when all the members of the group understand the value in preserving a group and creating a teamwork environment.  Strangely enough, the desire for teamwork was not accomplished by taking personality assessments or listening to a speaker, instead the desire grew by witnessing how a lack of teamwork affects the individuals of a group.  As a result, by seeing what they did not want to become, they were motivated to move past the petty circumstantial issues and focus more on what is best for the group as a whole.

So who is this exceptional group of young individuals who have managed to learn significant life lessons about teamwork?  They are the graduating seniors at a private Christian school in Florida and without exception they are all extraordinary students not just for their individual accomplishments but also for their group mentality.  Isn’t it nice to hear about the positive impact of a group of teens can make in their culture instead of the negative impact of so many others?

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.