Today’s post is brought to you by my blogger friend Judy, The Direction Diva. I’m excited to have her share her insight with you, as my daughter is just a toddler so we haven’t entered that part of life yet. Guiding teens through the challenges of military life is a high calling for any parent and I’m glad you can learn from an experienced milspouse and mom!
Parenting Military Teens: When An Angry Outburst Means Something More
One moment you are “the best” and the next – well, you may as well have a third eye by the look on your teens face. Maybe you find yourself wondering – for the 5th time today – who replaced the child you raised with the stranger standing before you? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone.
In fact that’s a common feeling for parents of teenagers. One day they’re the son or daughter you’ve spent years with. The next they’re a complete stranger who has pretty much lost their ever-loving mind. On the tough days you may wonder if it’s your military life, typical teen behavior or just another phase. On the best days you laugh together, enjoy each other, and smile.
Parenting military teens is an adventure – and there were definitely times when we need support to get through it all!
You read some books and maybe talk to your friends. The books say that it’s normal for teens’ behavior to change. Your friends roll their eyes and you all make jokes about the tears, the defiance and the angry outbursts. So you feel better; even though you don’t like the behavior you figure it’s normal so it’s okay.
What I discovered is that it’s normal…to a point.
It’s normal for a teen to sleep more (in fact, most teens need more sleep than they think) but too much sleep is an indicator of depression. It’s normal for teens to get frustrated or have an angry outburst but when they’re frequent these outbursts can be an indication that they are struggling to cope or there’s a bigger underlying problem.
That’s the one that I wish I’d known about – angry outbursts and when they mean something more. When teens are dealing with a lot and trying to learn to be an adult, they get frustrated, similar to when they were toddlers learning to walk. But when the outbursts become more frequent or you notice that they are related to things that really aren’t that big of a deal, it’s time to take notice and consider:
Your child might be expressing frustration that’s building up from other problems or circumstances which they don’t have the coping skills to handle.
As military teens our kids deal with a lot. They change schools often and have to make new friends. They may be worried about you, their siblings or a parent’s safety during a deployment. They might feel the pressure to grow up and take on adult responsibilities faster than they are able. They even feel like their life is spinning out of control. And many times they just don’t have any idea how to deal with the emotions that come with whatever situation they are dealing with.
So anger and frustration intensify and the outbursts become more frequent.
As a parent, if you can catch on to the fact that they are floundering, you can get ahead of the situation and help them learn some healthy coping skills to handle their fears, frustrations and emotions.
Here are 5 things you can do to help your military teen:
- Don’t dismiss or ignore frequent outbursts as typical teen behavior.
- Know the warning signs and at risk behaviors of a teen who is at risk for depression, addiction and suicide.
- Open up a healthy line of communication. Start a conversation that is safe, free from judgment, yelling or blame. Ask “I see you getting frustrated more than usual, can you share what’s going on?” AND then LISTEN and resist the urge to fix it. Our teens often just need to know that they are being heard and that you care. “I’m here for you” is powerful.
- Remember that what seems trivial to you can be monumental to your child. Don’t dismiss what they are dealing with and lead them to resources that can help them deal with and manage the situation in a healthy way.
You can teach them some of the things you do to alleviate stress and handle fear. And listen to your gut. If you are worried about your teen and how they are coping with military life, don’t be afraid to get them some help from a professional at the earliest sign of trouble.
~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and lifestyle blogger as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of DASIUM (LivingThruCrisis.com), Judy’s books Right Side Up and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Risk are go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at TheDirectionDiva.com;