Your Teens Are Not Rebellious. They’re Just Asking You to Do This One Thing.

There’s an internal switch that happens when a child enters the teenage years. All of a sudden, that affectionate little kid who used to shower you with endless hugs and kisses and wanted to be with you all the time no longer wants to be kissed by you at school drop-off and just wants to hang out with friends!

It’s easy to dismiss our teen’s seeming distaste for our plans, routines, and attempts to hug them as plain ol’ rebelliousness. But what if, beneath the surface, it’s really just a new way of asking you to fill their love tank?

Here’s how two mamas did it.

Your Teens are Not Rebellious. They're Just Asking You To Do This One Thing.

Get to know the teenage version of your child and find a new dynamic that works.

A teenager’s personality and preferences evolve as much as a toddler’s, but the difference is that they may choose to work through these without their parents – which can be frustrating. Mommy Apple shares her experience when her 17-year-old daughter Aiel entered her teenage years.

"Her mood swings were hard on both of us. She would be okay and jolly one moment, then anxious and cranky the next. She also started staying longer in her room and asking for more alone time." Mommy Apple

Finding it hard initially to understand where Aiel was coming from, this change in dynamic was difficult for Mommy Apple.

"I used to think that her emotional rants were targeted at me, and it made me feel like I was failing her. I also didn't like it when she would retreat to her room; it felt like I wasn't needed." Mommy Apple

But once she resolved to make an effort to understand Aiel better, what used to be sources of frustration for her became places where gratitude grew.

"I realized that her venting out to me meant she felt safe enough with me to be emotionally honest and show her true self, with no fears of being judged and rejected. And for that, I am happy and thankful." Mommy Apple

Ultimately, it goes back to being seen and heard – something everyone desires at the core. When this need is met, parents create a safe space for their teens to grow and develop.

Lovingly and consistently reinforce boundaries.

Mommy Jot, who went through the teenager season several times with her three sons Matthew, Michael, and Aaron (now 35, 33, and 25), shared that one of the most challenging moments during that period was when they would question their values and rules.

"They would always ask the question 'Why?' because they needed to understand why you imposed those rules and why they are expected to obey." Mommy Jot

She added that it was both a mental and emotional process for all of them. According to her, as her teens were learning how to be independent and how to form critical convictions, she was trying to stay calm and firm while maintaining the boundary her teens would challenge.

Curfews, for instance, were one of those constantly-challenged rules.

"For teenagers who always want to be with their friends, it's very hard for them to understand why they need to be home at a certain time. As a parent, you have to be patient in explaining your reasons. It's easy to just say 'Because I told you so' and walk away, but that doesn't really help anyone in the long run. It's important to explain the value you're reinforcing behind the rule." Mommy Jot

It may not be an obvious principle, but love flourishes in healthy boundaries.

Learn your teen's love language and "speak" it in abundance!

Parents may pick up clues from how their kids responded to them when they were little, but it’s important to observe teens and find out the ways they feel loved and valued. Mommy Apple learned that Aiel thrives on conversations and quality time.

"I was pleasantly surprised to discover that she's quite a deep thinker. I love that we have meaty conversations about life and that along the way I get to learn about her perspectives on things. She also feels loved and supported when I set aside other things that I need to do and just sit with her, listen, and be present." Mommy Apple

Meanwhile, Mommy Jot learned that she didn’t share any similar love language with her sons.

"It was words of affirmation for my eldest, acts of service for my second, and quality time for my bunso. My love language is gifts! It really takes a lot of intentionality for me to make quality deposits in each child's love tank. It would be easy and convenient for me to buy them gifts, but that's not what will really fill those tanks to the brim." Mommy Jot

Over the years, she learned (with great effort!) to speak each love language as fluently as possible.

"I would send an encouraging text to my eldest whenever he achieved something or even when he does little things that I appreciate, like keeping his room clean. For my second son, I would help him with his school projects. For my youngest, I would surprise him by picking him up from school so that we can have a date." Mommy Jot

Communicate with your teens and adjust your perspective.

Mommy Jot emphasized the value of communicating with her teens to clear the air.

"As we grow older as parents, our kids are also changing, they are developing. See this as a beautiful thing. Do not sever the communication. Talk to them. Take time during dinner to take turns sharing and listening. This may be awkward at first, but if you do this often, they will feel that you really want to know and they will open up." Mommy Jot

It’s also important to have the right perspective on the physical, emotional, and mental changes teens are experiencing.

"Don't take the mood swings and unpredictability personally. It's not always about you or anything you've done. Don't let these be a reason to shut down or give up; rather take it as an opportunity to be open. Remember, just as you're having a hard time understanding them, they're struggling in their own way as they undergo these changes." Mommy Apple

Finally, parents need to be gracious to their teens and to themselves.

"There will be many challenges, and you'll make plenty of mistakes. You won’t always reach the standards you’ve set, and you won’t always be the forgiving, understanding parent. But give yourself time to grieve over those failures and resolve to start fresh. Remember, you're also in the process of learning and growing with your child. Mommy Apple


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