My phone rang today and I was excited to know that it was one of the teens that attended one of our training workshops in 2014, calling to touch base! I almost could not remember who she was even after introducing and describing herself, until she mentioned an interesting conversation I had with her in class on that day.
I realise that most people learn more through play, so I enjoy interactive and fun classes and would usually make sure that everyone in class participates in all the activities as much as possible; attempt a question, play a game, just say or do something while we all learn from it.
As I walked round the room on that day, I stopped right in front of her and I noticed some kind of stiffness and resistance from the way she looked. The look on her face screamed “Don’t even come near me.” I deliberately asked her to try the tongue-twisting phrase that the class was dealing with at the time. She reluctantly got up from her seat and whispered to me in a very low tone; “I can’t try it.” I asked why not? She responded; “I just can’t do it.”
My mind immediately went to “attitude”. I knew she could, but she just did not want to. That response did not show confidence either. Looking beyond the poor attitude, I held her hand and whispered back “What is wrong? Why don’t you want to try? What is going on?”
The teenage years could be pretty challenging because those are the years when they want to assert their own independence and identity, they believe they are full grown adults and are able to make their own choices. However, no matter how tall or big they have grown, they are far from being adults, their brains are yet to be fully developed and hence unable to make the best choices and decisions on their own without any form of guidance, especially from parents. That is why they resist school rules, even parents’ rules sometimes, they roll their eyes at authority, sigh heavily and sometimes talk back, become disrespectful and even argue.
From my experience, I have discovered that the teen’s poor attitude could also be as a result of worry or being unhappy or dissatisfied with something and they are taking it out on you and on others. That attitude would not disappear overnight, but one sure way of raising a happy and confident teen is to always show affection and concern for whatever may be going on with them; even when they try to resist you.
You may be tempted to get them out of your sight or totally ignore them because of their poor attitude, especially if you are a parent, you must find a way to make them feel secure and comfortable with you. Look beyond the attitude. Give support through their difficult times and let them know you have confidence in them and in their ability to do well and become successful adults.
Here are 3 tips to improve your Teenagers poor attitude
- Put your feet down – I realize it is best to ignore the poor attitude and pay attention to the behaviour. As long as your teen behaves and follow set rules, albeit grudgingly, the attitude may not be the primary focus. The truth is, you have to set rules, and there has to be consequences to violating those rules, otherwise they will have no values. Your teens need guidance at this time of their lives, hence you also need be role model in terms of your behaviour especially in public. Whatever they see you do, they will copy.
- Do not be tempted to return the rejection – Be assured that this phase will pass, so avoid being hostile in return. Let your teenager know that you are there for him no matter what. This will improve his confidence and self esteem and he will gravitate towards you when there is a desperate need for your support and re-assurance.
- Focus on getting your teenager to meet his/her responsibilities – No matter what happens. Take advantage of teachable moments. There will always be an opportunity during the day to teach a lesson or two about character or personal values. Help your teenagers learn to put in some effort into achieving their own goals and put away that feeling of entitlement.
Every teenager can Succeed!