Coming from experience as both a rebellious teenager and having worked with teens that were living at risk and totally loving living on the edge, I thought I’d share with you the best way you to encourage risky behaviours, have a total melt down over your teens attitude and awesome ability to lie straight to your face (whilst planning the best way to achieve what you don’t want them to achieve)!

So here we go:

The top 5 things to encourage Rebellion:

  1. Whatever you do, try EVERYTHING to control them with force or authority
  2. Don’t EVER listen to their view point
  3. Judge them and their friends harshly and make SURE they know it
  4. Don’t tell them that you love them regardless, make them WORK for your approval!
  5.  Don’t prepare them for the dangers of teenage years, keep them in the DARK and totally unprepared

OK, enough of my tongue in cheek blog hey?

Seriously now… if you want to survive the teenage years, which are the rocky years between 10 through to 24/25 (YES that old), avoid rebellion, with your relationship in tact and your young person working with you and not against you then have a look at these 5 things and see if you’re doing any of them!  If you are… stop!  Re-assess…. is that really working for you? Truly?

Nature’s way of creating functioning adults is to up the hormones and change the brain chemistry so that your teen is now looking at you with different eyes, looking at their friends as something just as important and many times… more important that you.  Many times, that involves testing the boundaries, rebellion against your views and add this with a brain that functions on impulse, emotions and little to no logic… it can create havoc.  Face it… it’s a reality and the more you fight that separation process, the worse it can be for you and them.  The best you can do is manage the rebellion, create a strong relationship and help them through it.

Are you the type of parent that thinks that your authority should be enough to prevent them from doing stupid things like it did when they were little?  A large portion of our youth population don’t really take authority too well, and whilst some people think that we have become a too permissive society and young people are off the rails, I would suggest that these absent parents are not in touch with their kids either.  They do the opposite of number 1 (above) and most likely all of the rest.

I learned a lot by my upbringing and rebellion years and I wanted to ensure my teens were prepared for the dangers I PUT MYSELF through.  I also have a son who did not respond well to authority, so I had to try a different tact….  Listen, empathise, acknowledge the thrill, the fears, the danger and give lots of alternative strategies for dealing with hairy situations and always ensure we have a close enough relationship that if things went pear shaped, (and they did),  I was the first person he called (and I was).  I had no illusions that I could stop him from all the dangers, he had an impulsive nature…  but I knew that if I spoke to him about every risky experience that he would come across and have to deal with as a teen, then I could give him options to manage it.  I’ve done that again for my daughter.

I found this anonymous teenage plea which I think sums it up well

The key to them listening to this information with an open mind was to show them the respect, listen and empathise with their experiences and leave my judgements of them and their friends out of it.  If they did have friends that did enjoy risky behaviours, I would explore that with them and give them options on how to avoid it if the pressure was put on them.  And handling peer pressure is key!  Especially if they have any self esteem issues.

When I was working with teens who were doing drugs, steeling, drinking, joy riding, it was really important that I first establish a strong foundation of respect with them.  That meant not judging them for their behaviour, but looking at the person behind that, understanding their needs and connecting with them at that level.  When I had that in place, they were willing to explore the pros and cons of each risky behaviour, brainstorm alternatives and most of the time they were willing to avoid the risky behaviour and eventually get back into school and home again.

Underlying all of my work was essentially a love for them as a person.  If you truly love someone and they know it, because of the way you treat them, they are more likely to listen and be willing to try something less extreme.

One key skill you will need is the ability to listen!  That may sound easy, but it’s not!  It means putting your agenda aside, your emotions, fears, judgements, seeing it from their viewpoint and especially offering NO advice!

Try it… let me know how you go.  It’s not easy!  Next week I’ll go into further detail on the skill of  listening.


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