8 things parents do that drive their kids crazy

Has junior been flying off the handle a lot recently? You might be the reason for their irritation…

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Remember the very first time you clapped eyes on your mini-me? You kept staring at them, tracing your fingers along their teeny tiny hands and feet as you soaked in every little detail.

Soon you knew what every newborn cry meant, aced at calming your cutie down and relished knowing that all your tyke needed was you by his side to make him feel safe.

Then, puberty reared its ugly head. Sweet little John or Tammy has very suddenly (possibly overnight) been replaced by a moody, constantly grumpy stranger who doesn’t want to have to do anything with you.

Being on the cusp of puberty (below the age of 10) can be hard for a kid. It’s no coincidence that this is also the time when communication starts breaking down between parent and child, your tween starts rebelling  and having angry outbursts.

“Very often, parents hear [their] teen saying, ‘There's no point in talking to you, you don't understand me. You don't even know me’,” says Vinti Mittal, a counsellor and director at SACAC Counselling, a counselling centre that works with kids and young adults.

Your tween has plenty of reasons for acting that way ― hormones do play a part, but can’t be blamed for everything. As your child gets older, he or she is trying to discover themselves, and establish their own sense of identity while at the same time face a future of uncertainty, says Vinti. It’s a time for self-questioning, self-discovery and self-development – and it’s a tall order for a little person, which makes it even more of a minefield.

“Very often parents hear [their] teen saying, ‘There's no point in talking to you, you don't understand me. You don't even know me’.”

“They also are looking for the parent’s approval and appreciation of whom they are becoming,” Vinti points out. “The quarrels and arguments with parents, are often in an attempt to make parents see that they are not the child the parents think they know. They want to shake a parent into an awareness of the new and exciting person they hope to become.”

The breakdown of the parent-child relationship  

Now that junior’s focus is beyond the family, parents struggle to stay connected with their child as well. Your little one has been your little one for such a long time that it’s normal for mum and dad to refuse to accept that their child is now part of an entirely different world they know nothing about.

At the same time, parents also feel that their growing child needs help balancing their newfound independence and responsibilities. However, junior doesn’t agree. Your child wants to prove to themselves, you and the rest of the world that they can take control of their life. They see you as a meddler and someone who’s standing in their way of independence.

“All this causes additional stress on the relationship and hence the parents, who are under stress, feel the need to come down harder in the hopes of wanting the best for their kids,” adds Vinti.

The harder you come down on your child, the harder they will retaliate. If you feel like your tween has started acting out a lot recently and is having major angry outbursts, don’t be too quick to pin the blame of puberty ― or them.  Your parenting techniques, whether well-intentioned or stemming from frustration, could also be the reason.

Find out what you might be doing that’s triggering your tween and adding to the rift between you both...

#1 Being critical
You call it constructive feedback, your tween calls it nit-picking. “Parents criticise their children because of many reasons unaware of the consequences or out of frustration,” Vinti notes. Sometimes, parents do it because that’s how they were raised and it is the only communication style they know.

“However, persistent criticism breeds resentment and defiance, and undermines a child’s initiative, self-confidence and sense of purpose,” adds Vinti. Words are powerful and nobody thrives in a critical environment, especially not a self-conscious, vulnerable tweenager.

So, the next time you’re about to say something harsh to your child, ask yourself a few questions first. Is it helpful? Will it make your tween a better person? Most importantly, follow the golden rule of doing unto others what you would have them do unto you.