Our 15-year-old spends most her time in her bedroom whiling away hours on social media. She becomes sulky when we ask her to spend time with us as a family, and we end up arguing. Is there a way to change the situation?
I’m sure every parent with a teenager will identify with this issue. Teenagers always push to gain greater independence. It’s a natural part of becoming ready to fly the nest and make their own way in life. So, your daughter’s behaviour fits in with this pattern. However, that doesn’t mean teenagers don’t have to learn that there are responsibilities that come with growing up. One of them being it’s important to treat people with respect, and the other being we don’t always get to do what we want to do. Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to, because that’s the right thing to do. Spending quality time with your family falls into both these categories and you’ve probably allowed her too much leeway on both counts.
The other issue is the amount of time she is spending on social media and the rather negative fallout that’s creating. While social media has many positive effects, it is well documented that through social media, young people can also get involved in worrying situations that can affect their self-esteem and general well-being.
Reopen lines of communication with her. Parents need to walk the fine line between allowing reasonable levels of privacy for their children and ensuring they are being safe online.
So, first, sit down with your husband and work out a new set of rules that balance your daughter’s natural need to be more independent with her family responsibilities. Part of this focuses on limiting screen time.
Once you’ve worked out how you can do this, talk to her about it. Not when you are angery or when she’s sulky, but at a time when you can both be calm and positive. Explain to her the rules, your reasoning behind them and the consequences for not following them.
This is likely not to go down too well with her and initially you might be in for a rocky ride.
However if you’re determined to stand firm and she sees that boundaries are not for pushing, then I believe you will start to see a difference in her attitude.
Give her responsibilities around the house and build in a reward structure.
It’s also vital for you to spend time as a family, so maybe once a month try to do something fun together. This will open up time for you to just talk and get to know her world a bit more.
Russell Hemmings is a Dubai-based Life Coach and Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist