The appearance of the classic teen “attitude” came early in our house. The first child to reach adolescence began showing signs when the hormones started to race and childhood compliance no longer seemed fun. Attitude among teens has several purposes, but to the adult, caregiver, authority figure, teacher, or innocent bystander who has to witness a teen attitude attack, the suddenness of an attitude shift can come as a surprise.
Signs of the Teen Attitude
So far I am two down for children entering the teenage years. Ninety-nine long winded sighs, forty-six groundings, and ten bar of soap in the mouth threats later, I have a better understanding of the teen need for displaying, what is commonly called, “attitude.”
The signs of teen attitude vary widely. The rising hormone levels of my own sons ushered in a new sense of impulsivity, protest to rules, moping, and the occasional backtalk comment. Verbal attitude usually leads to the dreaded teen-parent argument, which is often the kind where you are perceived as wrong, unfair, or trying to ruin someone’s social life. Teen attitude can be trying, especially when teens are still trying to master their swinging emotions.
Attitude with Purpose
Teen attitude displays come in two very different varieties, the expected, somewhat rebellious attitude, and the disrespectful sort which gives my teens an automatic pass to a grounding or some other form of attitudinal discipline. The latter is much less frequently seen, but consequences have been the key to keeping that type of teen attitude in check.
The “normal” teen attitude displays, are often a way for my kids to test the waters, check the limits, and discover how to engage in lively debate. The phrase, “whatever,” often means they are trying to show their indifference and be cool at the same time. Facial expressions can reveal teen attitude, as well as little utterances and sighs. I like to imagine that my teens are getting practice in emotional expression, but most days it just looks like “attitude.”
How I Tamed Down the Attitude
Amazingly enough, I discovered that I, too, was quite capable of displaying my own sort of “attitude.” Teens have a way of bringing it out, I suppose. When combating facial expression and verbal slings, I find that keeping my calm while wincing helps. Sometimes, a simple look will curb the teen attitude, other days a warning. Above all else, though, keeping calm has been the key. I am now aware that some attitude issues are just part of growing up, testing limits, and feeling caught between childhood and adulthood.
I still have years left to deal with teen “attitudes,” but I have become smarter. Ignoring a moody teen, letting minor attitude slips go at times, walking away for my own time outs, and refusing to engage in endless arguments, are all ways that have worked for taming the teen “attitude” at my house. It’s not a perfect system, but all in all, the teen attitude displays are less and less performances now, and more just occasional mood swings.