How to Hold onto Your Teen Addict by Holding onto Your Temper
Despite prioritizing your child above everything else for well over a decade, he or she has grown into a teenager who inexplicably experimented with drugs or alcohol and got addicted. Today, your ungrateful teen still walks around acting as if he or she is the victim of life’s injustice and still chooses to do (or not do) things that hurt himself or herself and your entire family.
If that does not make you angry, then you should check your pulse. Even so, losing your temper with your addicted teen will not solve the problem – and may only make it worse.
Research Illustrates the Negative Impact of Parental Anger
A study published in the journal Child Development in 2014 reinforces this notion. Psychologists at the University of Pittsburgh followed over 960 middle schoolers and their parents in eastern Pennsylvania over a two-year period. Most of these teenagers came from middle-class families, and the project did not focus specifically on addicts.
They discovered that harsh verbal discipline was linked to increased symptoms of depression and greater likelihoods of antisocial, aggressive, or problematic behavior (like substance abuse). The outcomes were unaffected by the level of “parental warmth” exhibited by the parents. Perhaps most shockingly, the results were comparable to similar studies which examined the effects of physical discipline on kids.
Behaviors to Avoid
When dealing with teen addicts, many parents may unconsciously imitate the disciplinary styles of their mothers and fathers by:
- being sarcastic
- making snide remarks
- delivering exceedingly harsh punishments in the heat of the moment
Invariably, these types of tactics tend to elicit similar negative reactions in their teenage children, and this only serves to exacerbate the problem and cause more tension in the family.
Getting Your Temper Under Control
The first step in getting a grip on your temper is recognizing what your specific triggers are. Triggers are words, actions, and attitudes exhibited by your teen that always seem to get under your skin, linger in your mind long after the encounter has passed, and even affect you physically. (Note: Your teen probably knows what most of your triggers are.)
Next, you must find a coping strategy that works for you. Pausing, taking a few deep breaths, and/or counting to ten have become clichés, but that because they tend to work. It may also help to incorporate relaxation practices into your daily routine like exercise, yoga, meditation, or (at the very least) some well-deserved “you time.”
Finding Better Ways To Talk to Your Teen
Once your anger is under control, it is important to communicate your message calmly and precisely. Some examples may include:
- “You know our rule about no Internet use until your homework is done.”
- “Give me your smartphone. I’ll give it back when you’ve cleaned your room.”
- “I don’t like it when you belittle your sister like that. Please show her the same respect that you would want from me.”
Believe it or not, heart-to-heart conversations are an excellent way to communicate with your teen. The key to being successful with this approach is to listen to what your teen is telling you, even if you do not agree with it or it makes you uncomfortable.
Finally, you should always be aware that you are not the only parent going through this type of stress. If you look, you will probably find support groups or parent meetups with people who are dealing with similar situations. Alternatively, you can simply choose to confide in a trusted friend or family member.
The process of addiction recovery can be long, difficult, and fraught with missteps – and that is also true for the addict! Keeping your temper in check can be one of the most challenging aspects of this ordeal. However, if your ultimate goal for your teen is sobriety, then it is vital that you control your anger and focus your energy on keeping your teen on that healing path to getting sober and staying that way.
For information on treatment and rehabilitation for your teen addict, contact us today. We can help.