While some teens retain the cooperativeness and pleasant nature that they exhibited during childhood, others seem to transform nearly overnight into unrecognizable beings who greet every situation with disdain. If your teen’s behavior is in need of modification, consider ways you can make the desired change and help turn your teen into a more pleasant and cooperative person. While this modification is often difficult, taking the time to help your teen abandon negative behaviors can set your child up for later-in-life social success.
Analyze the Specifics
Before you can set about changing your teen’s behavior, you must decide what you would like to change. If your teen’s behavior is generally unpleasant, pause and consider why you find this behavior so distasteful. You cannot modify your teen’s behavior if you try to simplify the situation by saying things like, “She’s being a brat.” Instead, consider what she is doing that is making her appear a bit bratty in your eyes so you know what behaviors you should aim to change.
Don’t begin the process of teen behavior modification expecting to produce a Stepford child who does no wrong. Teens, by their nature, are impulsive and emotional. No amount of behavior training can change these inherent qualities. As the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry notes, teens are in the process of developing emotionally. This period of change will make your teen a bit difficult. Through behavior modification efforts, you can reduce — but not eliminate — a difficult nature.
Don’t Avoid Issues
While some teens’ behavioral difficulties are simply a result of their movement through the standard developmental stages, others have underlying issues that lead them to be more challenging. If your teen has experienced trauma or is struggling as the result of some loss or negative experience, attempting to modify your teen’s behavior without dealing with these issues would be futile. Before you create behavior modification plans, face these problem-causing issues head-on and overcome them.
Include Your Teen
When you create a behavior modification plan, it is vital that your teen is included. Teens, unlike their younger, more malleable counterparts, are often resistant to change if they feel that the change is being thrust upon them. To avoid this, make your teen herself central in your plans. For example, if you decide that you want your teen to stop talking back when you give her directions, begin the process of creating a plan by sitting down with her and asking her why she is engaging in that undesirable behavior. Once you get her side of the story, ask her to suggest things that you both could do together to change this behavior. Create a list of these things. Turn this list into your behavior modification plan.
Focus on the Future
To keep your teen motivated to change, tie your behavioral modification efforts to her future success. For example, if you are trying to get your teen to stop using profanity, discuss with him why this vocabulary may not lead to future success. By connecting your current efforts to the future, you will make it easier for your teen to see that behavior modification efforts are actually worth it.