It's easy for parents to blame themselves when their children rebel. It's normal to ask questions like "Where did I go wrong?" or "How do I fix this?" But the truth is, it very rarely is the parents' fault. Here are six reasons your child might be pulling away:
1. They are trying to find themselves
Very few people look back at their awkward phase fondly. Not only do you struggle for social acceptance, you're also trying to figure out who you are. Your child is going through this same battle. Acting out against rules, structure and parents is your child's way of trying to reject the status quo and gain independence.
2. They are seeking attention
Your child wants to be noticed. They want to stand out from the crowd, and sometimes that means seeking attention in the wrong places and all the wrong ways.
As parents, find the balance between giving your children attention and smothering them. Do fun activities with your children and make your home a place where they like to hang out with friends. This will help your child feel more comfortable at home and will also let you keep an eye on them.
3. They are seeking some control of their own
As a baby, you made all of their decisions for them. You decided what time they woke up, what they wore, what activities they were a part of and what they ate. There wasn't much room for them to make their own decisions. But now that they're older, you've found yourself playing tug-of-war with your child over who gets to make the decisions.
It's hard to watch your baby grow up, but it's important to grant them the ability to make their own decisions as they get older.
4. They are testing the boundaries
As your child gains more independence and adjusts to new rules, they will try to see how far they are allowed to go before they cross the line. Be sure to keep that boundary clear - not having rules can make your child feel like you don't offer enough attention. If your child has a clear idea of what their boundaries and consequences are, they're less likely to intentionally break the rules.
5. They are rebelling as a defense mechanism
Your child is trying to make sense of the emotions that come with aging. Author J.P. Kahn said in his book, "Child Development - Problems of Discipline, Authority and Rebellion," that often times, rebellion comes as a result of trying to mask anxiety or fear. Address any potential emotional concerns with your teen to find a solution to their rebellious behavior.
6. They want to be accepted
Sometimes, children become someone else to feel accepted by their friends. While teens know what they're doing doesn't align with their parents' standards, they rebel to feel included by their peers. In the "everyone else is doing it, so why not me?" phase, parents should be patient and remind their teen that it's important to have the confidence to stand apart from the crowd.
As your children grows up, remember to focus on the positive. These years are hard for the both of you. Find ways to praise and compliment your teen; your support will do more than your negativity will. Most importantly, remember this phase will pass. Soon it'll be just another part of raising children - just like dirty diapers and coloring on the walls.