All of us have been (or are or will be) teenagers at some point in our lives. We know and have experienced a great deal of change, and some will even have gone through a phase of rebelliousness towards their parents, even once they have come of age.
And the truth is that although at the time it might seem the logical way to proceed, the truth is that this behavior can be frustrating for the adult, as they can discover when they in turn have their own children. In this context, doubts may arise as to how to react, what to do. How to treat a rebellious 18-year-old? In this article we will try to give ten basic tips for dealing with this situation.
Rebelliousness in postadolescence
Adolescence, the passage from childhood to adulthood, is a process that involves a great deal of physical, psychological and social change.
In addition to those of development, we are facing a great increase in what society demands of us, something especially visible when we reach the age of majority: legally we are already adults and we are required to take responsibility as such, even though we have not yet matured through adolescence (in fact, some authors even propose that we remain adolescents until we are 25). We continue to experiment and try to find ourselves , as well as to prove our newly acquired identity.
It is therefore a difficult age for those who live it, and it can be a distressing and frustrating time. Likewise, a certain distancing from authority figures typical of previous years usually persists , derived from the search for a separate identity and from the search for and increase in the importance of other social relations.
All this can lead to oppositionist and rebellious behaviour, which can also be a source of anguish and a lack of understanding between the now legally adult and his family environment.
These phenomena persist during the final stage of adolescence, post-adolescence, with the characteristic that at this age the capacity to disobey is greater , given that more resources are available for this.
10 Tips for Treating a Rebellious Youth
Facing adolescence and the arrival of adulthood (legally speaking, at least in our country) can be complicated both for the young person himself and for his parents, and attitudes of rebellion can appear. In this sense, here are ten tips for dealing with a rebellious 18-year-old.
However, it must be taken into account that we are talking about rebellious adolescents, not including the presence of aggressive attitudes and domestic violence .
1. Establish good communication
Perhaps the most important thing in any type of relationship, and especially in one where there is a certain rebelliousness and resistance to parental figures, is to establish fluid communication. It is important that this communication takes into account the possible conflicts that our child may have, and that it is not carried out as an interrogation but as a complete conversation in which a genuine interest is appreciated. It can be useful to approach the youngster’s hobbies in order to produce a rapprochement between the two.
2. Give her space, listen and respect her opinion
Our son or daughter is already 18 years old, and although he or she still needs us in his or her life, he or she also needs to have his or her own space. This does not mean that we are not interested in him, but it does mean that we accept that he wants and needs to have privacy.
As with space, the 18-year-old has his own criteria which, although somewhat inexperienced, is still valid and must be respected and taken into account. We must listen to them carefully and without interrupting them: it is a question of not ignoring their point of view but of validating it and considering it.
3. Watch out for expectations and comparisons
Many conflicts can arise because of one’s own demands regarding what the now adult should do. We must understand that we are dealing with an autonomous person with his own ideas and convictions .
It is important not to try to force them to live the life that we would have liked to lead and not to demand that they meet our expectations or take them down the path that we would have liked to take. Above all, do not compare them with others: they are valuable beings in their own right, as valid as anyone else.
4. Prohibited to prohibit and overprotect
Simply banning and censoring is, especially when there is rebellion, totally counterproductive. In fact, it is likely that what is forbidden is more appetizing both because it is forbidden and because it contravenes the rule imposed. Furthermore, we must take into account that he is already of age and has the capacity to make his own decisions, we must consider that we must advise and guide him without being a presence that acts through coercion or imposition.
On the other hand, overprotecting our child has negative consequences and also leads to a certain distancing, as the young person does not feel validated and observes that he is considered incapable of making his own decisions. As long as certain limits are not exceeded it is necessary to allow him to experiment and even to make mistakes.
5. Set clear limits
We have said in the previous point that it is necessary not to prohibit but neither should we sin of overpermission. We must establish clear, coherent and consistent limits on behaviour, which we must keep firm without being seen to be coercive.
It is a matter of the acts themselves having consequences and that these are known by the young person. This of course includes the treatment given to the parents, and the non-acceptance of violent attitudes or degrading treatment.
6. Give example
An 18-year-old is already perfectly capable of observing when something is said to him while doing the opposite. Thus, we cannot demand from our children something that we do not show them: we need to be able to set an example so that the young person sees a consistency between what is said and what is done. However, he is still a different person so we must be careful with the demands and expectations we have of him.
7. Don’t lose your temper and be empathetic
Although it may be difficult, it is necessary to remain calm even in the face of rebellious attitudes and to try to understand the adolescent/young person’s point of view. After all, you are facing a much more demanding reality than you are used to, when you have or are about to enter the adult world. Anger, shouting or arguments will generate discomfort and a distancing of positions.
8. Give him a voice
This point is important since it allows on the one hand to establish a communication and to give him a certain autonomy (not in vain he is already legally an adult) and at the same time to respect a series of limits. We must give him not only the ability to express his opinion but also to take it into account, being the already legally adult able to make decisions regarding his own life. It is not a question of the young person always having his or her own , but of being able to negotiate an alternative that is valid for everyone in those aspects where there is no consensus.
9. Reinforces positive behaviors
A common mistake in the transition to the adult world is to focus on what the child is doing wrong, with the parents’ attitude generally being corrective.
No matter how much we have come of age, we all need to be approved and congratulated for the things we do well. Therefore it is advisable to reinforce and congratulate the achievements of the now legally adult, especially those that are important to him. It is also very useful that all positive behaviour is well seen and reinforced, without entering into criticism or demands.
10. Let him know you love him
This last point may seem obvious, but it’s probably one of the most important: as much as our child is already legally an adult, he or she will now and always need to know that his or her family will be a supportive, loving and appreciative core regardless of what happens.