Raising children on your own is challenging enough without the added stress of teenage rebellion. Still, it is your duty as parent to establish guidelines for behavior that could keep your child from getting in trouble with the law. Here are some tips for the single parent dealing with a teenager’s bad behavior.
1. Realize you can’t necessarily control the behavior. Start by trying to understand your teen. They are beginning to go through changes associated with puberty. Secondly, they are at the age when exploring their self-identity is common, so give them some breathing room. It’s possible that a recent divorce could be a contributing factor.
2. Open up the lines of communication. Your teenager may be experiencing peer pressure and testing boundaries. Start an ongoing dialogue about what constitutes good, respectful behavior. Then, let them make their choices.
3. Establish guidelines with clear consequences. Parents demonstrate concern for their child’s safety by establishing clear boundaries and communicating the consequences for crossing those boundaries. If you include your teen in a heart-to-heart discussion and give them a chance to provide input, you are more likely to see cooperation when it comes to respecting boundaries.
4. Praise positive behavior. Instead of harping on the negative behaviors, try praising the positive behaviors. Instill a spirit of pride in your teen, and she’ll try harder to please you.
5. Model respect. Many parents seek to gain respect by demanding it. Instead, teach your teen to respect others by being respectful toward them. Model the behavior you expect.
Your teenager is trying to come into his or her own. That requires some patience on your part and a careful selection of battles. Help your teenager think through the consequences of unwanted behaviors. If possible, talk to your ex-spouse about your situation, and work together to get your teen on the right track.