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Sudden Teenage Rebellion

Mary Warren
Mary Warren

Independent Educational Consultant
and Parenting Coach

When A Switch Flips And You No Longer Know Your Own Kid?

 

How many times have you wondered what the h*ll happened to my child? One day your daughter is polite, respectful, motivated, and funny.  She loves being around you and you love hanging out with her.  She asks you to watch movies, her favorite TV shows, you enjoy going shopping together.  She likes talking with you about everything.

She wears appropriate clothes. She has *good* friends you approve, she gets good grades and her teachers love her, and then one day BAM she is gone!

Suddenly your daughter’s rebelled, her behavior changed as quickly as if someone flipped a switch!

A sudden change in behavior like this, is disconcerting to a parent. It feels like someone flipped a switch and out of nowhere, this “stinker” shows up!  Your daughter no longer wants to talk to you. She swears, disrespects you, and makes it clear that she wants nothing to do with you!  

She changed her wardrobe.  You don’t know how or where the new clothes came from.  You don’t recognize her. She is wearing clothing that makes her look like a streetwalker.

It is unbelievable, and you think I get it, she’s growing up! All teenagers exhibit some rebellious behavior at some point.  You knew at some point “in the future” there would be some teen rebellion maybe some mood swings, ups and downs during adolescence.  But this… you weren’t prepared for this.   No one told you about this! Or maybe, you heard about it, but you just knew it wouldn’t happen to you!

It’s jaw-dropping and disconcerting to suddenly not recognize your own teenager.

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How and why does your teenage daughter suddenly rebels like this?  Your daughter changed because she’s trying to find her own style and wants to become independent. This is why when you approach her, she wants nothing to do with you or your ideas. 

She no longer wants to hang out with you.  Additionally, she has different friends she won’t let you meet.  If she brings her friends or new boyfriend around, she doesn’t want you anywhere near her. 

Does any of this sound familiar?  Think about it, overnight your teenage daughter is telling you what to do.  She doesn’t want her friends talking to you and tells you to “go to a different part of the house.”  The whole time you are thinking, this is my house! 

 

Teenage Relationship Changes: Parents Lose Control Over Their Child

 

This is not the teen rebellion you expected, and this is not the relationship you want to have with your daughter. And, yes this is still your house!  The one thing no one tells you is that as parents, at some point you will have no control over what’s happening in your home with your child.   

For instance, when your daughter locks herself in her room all day and night.  When she is on her phone, on social media sending nude pics and texting things that make you blush! 

Or when you find out that she’s sharing her life on Snapchat or TikTok with complete strangers. She’s doing things you didn’t think she was capable of doing. You are shocked, you had no idea this was going on or maybe you suspected something but didn’t know it right away.  The day you find all this out, you feel crushed, heartbroken and absolutely powerless. 

As if these discoveries on their own weren’t enough, you find out that she’s already having sex or is wanting or planning to. As a parent, what can you do? You spend restless hours thinking about this and you prepare yourself mentally to have a talk.  You approach her kindly and bring up the subject and she tells you to f*ck off and that it’s none of your damn business. It’s her body and she can do what she wants.

You ask yourself again, Who Is ThisThis is not the child you knew!  What happened to your sweet child, the one who wanted to be your “best friend”? Wasn’t she here just like 10 minutes ago!

To you, it feels like the Switch Flipped and you have no idea what the heck happened to this child!  Worse yet, you don’t know exactly what to do to get your child back? You feel like you are in the middle of your own personal version of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers!

 

Dealing with Teen Rebellion

 

 

Sudden Behavior Changes Without Permanently Damaging the Parent-Child Relationship

 

During my consultations or coaching session, I get this question all the time.

The answer is that you can’t make her do anything.  Unfortunately, she will resist you on every level if you try and “make” her do something that she doesn’t see as wrong.

In your teenage daughter’s mind, she is being herself.  She is doing what she wants.  What most parents don’t understand is that no matter how hard you try; she will not see your point of view.  Especially, when she believes or feels that you are accusing her of wrong-doing, or you are trying to “change” her back.  

My advice to parents that I coach is to change their approach. It is time to improve your communication with your teenager.  Anything you do, or say, that feels to her as a reprimand, fixing, or trying to control her will only back-fire. I promise you that the more you try to fix it the worse it will get. The more you talk and try to control the situation the more you are damaging your relationship. 

 

Connecting with Your Teen Through Communication

 

Consider a better approach to communicate with your teenage daughter.

  • What is a parent to do?
  • How do you possibly communicate with a teenager in the midst of a teenage rebellion?
  • How to connect with your teenager to create a healthier relationship?

 

The only way to reach that connection with your child is through a calm conversation. I must tell you, the first time you try this, plan for it.  It takes a lot of planning and you should be emotionally prepared to do this. 

Approach the conversation differently, start by asking lots of questions about why she is feeling the way she is about herself.  Ask her, why she feels like what she is doing is ok and good for her life right now.

To get her to open up, talk with her more on her level, and get her talking.  Don’t preach! This is not the time to tell her your story. Do not share anecdotes about your life and childhood. 

This is not a teaching moment, skip all the lessons.  Don’t tell her you are wanting her to avoid going through the pain by sharing your experience. If you do, you will lose her interest immediately.

The truth is that kids don’t care what we went through when we were their age. And, no matter how many times, or ways, you try and tell them about your experience, you will not get them to care! So, Stop It!   Children of all ages, teenagers especially, want to talk about what is real for them and their life.

Instead, use this time to make a new connection and reach agreements.  Calmly, set new boundaries, be specific and clear on the highest priority.  For instance, if you are concerned about her safety and health, then tell her so now.

 

Setting Boundaries and Limits with Your Teenager

 

Use this time, to speak of health and safety.  This is the time for a birth control talk.  Without anger or yelling, firmly set limits.  You can say, I know you are having sex, but our rule is no sex in our home.  And, then get her to agree!

I hear you thinking, but no, I’m not going to approve of her having sex.  I know, what I’m telling you sounds like a conflict, and we can discuss that in another blog.  But, right now, is the time to set new boundaries around curfew, phones, and social media.  Your goal for this conversation is to make sure she stays safe!

 

Prepare Yourself Emotionally and Do Not Be Combative

 

To make the conversation feel fairer to her, be prepared to make concessions. You can agree to something she wants, like respecting each other’s space. An example would be agreeing to not walk into each other’s room without permission.

When speaking your teenager, communications about consequences must be clear, direct, and measurable. You can’t just say be home “around” 11, it must be, be home at 11. 

Instead of saying, “get better grades”, say you must maintain a 3.0 GPA.  Be clear to her that your phone is to be off at 10 pm, if it is not, I will take it away.  Then follow through and do it!

These days, the big gun for any parent is taking the phone away. Use it wisely as it will cause the most conflict.  For a teenager, a day without a cell phone is by far the harshest punishment. 

As a parent, following this advice is not easy.  It is hard for a teenager to agree with parents on boundaries and appropriate behavior. If you think about it, neither of you wants to have these conversations.

Conclusion

Get ready for this conversation, plan it.  Having this talk with your teenager will take a lot of patience.  You must stay calm, no matter what she throws at you.

If you are going through this situation with your teenager now, and you feel like you are drowning and nothing you have tried is working, it is time to get help.  Let’s talk about it I can coach you through this process, help you get ready for this conversation. 

Parenting a teenager who’s suddenly flipped, is new territory for you and you won’t have all the answers.  You will need emotional support, but if you follow this advice, things will get better, I promise!

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