One issue that I see often is when parents tell me that their child is driving them crazy – they won’t listen, they’re disrespectful, they won’t do their chores or homework, or they just don’t seem to care. There’s no way around it – kids and teens can be difficult sometimes! While counseling can be of benefit to most in this situation, there are things that you can do at home.

First, really…and I mean REALLY…try to listen to your child. What are they trying to tell you? Sometimes there is meaning behind the words. Are they trying to express that they don’t feel heard or understood? Do they want more time with you? Do they want more freedom or more choices? Are they not feeling good about themselves? It’s so easy for us to react out of an automatic response without thinking about what they’re REALLY trying to say.

Second, consider their requests. But, you might say, this is my house and I run this show! Yes, that is true. But if you wish to have a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship with them when they’re adults, consider what they are offering. I have seen instances when a child or teen is asked to do a chore a certain way. The chore was still going to get done, just not the way the parent preferred to do it. Ask yourself, is it worth the battle, the stress, and the damage to the relationship to put your foot down when the end goal is still being reached? Pick your battles wisely.

Finally, freedom can be a tricky minefield, especially for adolescents. They are learning about themselves and the world around them and need to learn about natural consequences. Now, obviously, I’m not saying let them do whatever they want! But giving them more freedoms as they get older and as they get closer to moving out of the house will help them learn about responsibility and consequences. It’s much better for them to fail while at home in the safety of your care than when they are moved out and the same resources may not be there.

Steffani Wooley, MA, LPC-I