Wondering how to deal with your teenage son? Raising teenage sons isn’t always easy. Parenting teenagers requires patience and empathy, as well as self-compassion. And teenage boy behavior can be particularly challenging, particularly in today’s unique circumstances.
As a result of the pandemic, social distancing, and remote school, teens are experiencing more isolation, loneliness, and anxiety than ever before. Teenage boys are cooped up in their rooms and spending all their time online, leading to a higher risk of internet gaming disorder.
Moreover, while girls are more likely to talk about what they’re feeling, teenage boys tend to withdraw when they’re struggling. Hence, they don’t get the parental support or professional help they need.
Understanding Teen Boy Behavior and the Teenage Brain
The question of how to deal with your teenage son starts with understanding the root causes of teenage boy problems. What are teenage boys experiencing during these turbulent years? And how can parents of teens practice awareness and create authentic connection?
Understanding teen sons and teenage boy problems may be easier when parents of teens are familiar with the process of adolescent development. Teenage boy behavior is controlled in large part by the hormonal and neurobiological changes that occur during puberty.
Furthermore, the teenage brain is still developing. The area of the brain that’s responsible for judgment and decision-making, the prefrontal cortex, doesn’t fully mature until the mid-20s. Hence, teen boys experience shifting impulses and emotions. How to deal with your teenage son gets complicated.
Dealing with Teenage Boys’ Risky Behavior
When parents talk about dealing with teenage boys, they’re often referring to their teen son’s risky behavior. Risky teenage boy behavior may include:
- Reckless driving
- Unprotected sex
- Substance abuse, which is more common among teen boys than girls
- Binge drinking
- Cigarette smoking
- Behavior that may lead to violence or injury—e.g., fighting, carrying weapons, or participating in unsafe recreational activities.
There are many reasons why teenage boys are drawn to risk-taking behaviors. External stresses can push teenage boys toward risky behaviors to let off steam. In addition, peer pressure can be a factor.
One study found that taking risks can be a way for teens to explore and learn more about their world. However, a smaller subset of teens—specifically those with impulse control problems—is disproportionately likely to experience the negative consequences of risky behaviors.
The Basics of How to Deal with Your Teenage Son
When dealing with teenage boys, parents need to create clear limits and effective consequences. Hence, when navigating teenage boy problems, take a direct approach. Here are five guidelines for how to deal with your teenage son.
- Set limits. First, parents and teen boys agree to set boundaries and rules that both agree on. The rules are based on shared values about staying safe and keeping harmony in the family.
- Write it down. Furthermore, families might consider drafting a written agreement. Therefore, the guidelines and boundaries are clear to everyone.
- Agree on consequences. Next, parents and sons agree on age-appropriate consequences that will go into effect if the rules are broken. For example, a consequence might be loss of car privileges or an earlier curfew. Moreover, the consequence should be age-appropriate.
- Invoke restitution. In addition, parents and teen boys can use a consequence known as restitution or restoration. Hence, teens help make a situation better after violating the shared contract. For example, if they get a speeding ticket, they pay it on their own. Or they take steps to repair a relationship with a sibling after a fight. As a result, a teen can earn back parents’ trust.
- Avoid severe punishment. However, severe punishment is not the best approach for dealing with your teenage son. In fact, punishment can make things worse. Teenage boys may feel rejected and resentful. Hence, they may withdraw further from their parents.
Research shows that teenage sons do better when their parents remain warm, open, and supportive, while also setting firm boundaries.
5 Keys for Communicating with Your Teenage Son
Often, teenage sons find it difficult to put their emotions into words. A national survey commissioned by Plan International USA polled over 1,000 teens and found that a third of boys think that society expects them to “be a man,” “suck it up,” and hide their feelings when they feel sad or scared.
Therefore, raising teenage sons includes recognizing that they may not feel comfortable sharing their innermost thoughts. As a result, parents of teens can get frustrated and feel ignored. Instead, when dealing with teenage boys, try the following approaches for how to talk to teens.
- Keep it short and sweet. This is an important aspect of how to talk to teens. If you have something you need your teen son to know, offer a series of clear points. Subsequently, let him respond to each.
- Don’t overdo the eye contact. While eye contact is often recommended for effective communication, that doesn’t hold true for dealing with your teenage son. Instead, it might overwhelm or intimidate him. For that reason, driving in the car together can be a good time for talking.
- Talk while you’re in action. Many teen boys find it easier to communicate when they’re doing something else at the same time. So have your chat while playing a game, taking a hike, or preparing dinner together.
- Stay calm. When assessing how to deal with your teenage son, don’t let your emotions get the upper hand. Showing anger or frustration may drive him deeper into his shell. As a result, he will be less likely to come to you for support.
- Give him time to process. Many teenage boys need a few hours or even days to think about important conversations. Therefore, don’t be disappointed if your teen son doesn’t change his behavior or attitude right away. Let him take in the information and then process it in his own time.
The Bottom Line About Raising Teenage Sons
Sometimes parents of teens might feel that their teenage son has no interest in them. But parents shouldn’t let that fool them. Evidence clearly points to the importance of the attachment between parents and teenage sons to support teen mental health and decrease substance abuse. Healthy teen-parent relationships help teenage boys grow into strong, independent young men. How to deal with your teenage son is to stay involved, no matter what.
Finally, with outside interactions limited, parents need to be extra observant around teenage boy behavior. If you’re seeing signs of situational depression in your teen son, contact your healthcare provider or reach out to Newport Academy’s team of experts today.
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“The State of Gender Equality for US Adolescents,” 2018 Report