Before I had any kids people would warn me about the terrible twos. It’s supposed to be the age when everything they say and do is done with the intention to drive you up the wall. It’s true, the terrible twos are terrible, but what about the terrible teenage years?
I’m a father of four kids, three of them being teenagers. These are the years when my kids have tried me more than ever because it’s during this time when they are the most opinionated. I remember those years thinking I knew it all. When you try so many ways of showing them consequence to action it’s easy to get frustrated when they get to the years when they just don’t care. It’s part of growing up I know. As a kid I was more than a handful and so in a way I guess this is payback for all the things I did.
As a parent you hear all kinds of methods for getting your kids to behave from smothering them with love to tough love. The thing is not all kids respond to all things same way. Sometimes taking away a favorite toy will work for one kid when noting seems to work for another. You have to find out what works.
Today when I got home my 16-year-old told on the other two teenagers for tormenting the youngest. It’s a game they often play only because they think the reaction they get is funny. The youngest isn’t beyond overreacting which makes matters worse. The scenario plays out like this (15-year-old to 13-year-old) “HAAAHAAAA look at her hair, sticking up in the back like that.” (13-year-old) “Wow look at you with your hair it’s sticking up.” Not a particularly mean thing to say but then the reaction from the 11-year-old is, “SHUUUUT UUUUUUP LEAVE ME ALONE!!!” Said with the voice of a shrieking harpy and loud enough to cause structural damage to our home.
Last year I was discussing this issue with a Realtor friend and she gave me a fantastic idea I’d never really considered. She said, “When my kids are bad I put them to work.” It’s brilliant. I’ve taken away the Xbox, toys, iPod’s, computers, phones and just about anything I could think of. It got to the point when there was nothing left to take so then what? Chores are always in abundance. It’s the thing that never runs out and it works. Tomorrow they will act up because that’s what kids do but it won’t be like today. The chores will remain fresh in their minds for a few days then we will repeat the cycle.