Sometimes we become so focused on the effect of our teenager’s behavior that we miss the feeling behind it. We get frustrated with how the fighting with siblings causes disruption in the home, and we focus so intently on stopping the behavior that we miss what is going on inside our kid. Don’t get me wrong, the behavior has to stop, but it can be more effective if we look at the hurt, and try to approach change at the source of the expressed behavior. Often times the undesirable expressed behavior is a safer emotion than the hurt below, or the hurt is not even understood by your teenager, and their body just reacts.
Common Behaviors Expressing by a Hurting Teenager
There are many behaviors that show your teenager is hurting, but the most common that I have run into over the years are Fighting with Siblings and Parents, Self-Harming, Withdrawing in a Depressed Manner, Losing Interest in Activities, Change in School Performance, or Being Angry all the Time. Some of these behaviors pretty obviously point to a hurting teenager, but when you are effected by the behavior, your own emotional response can cloud your perspective and you naturally go after the expressed behavior. The best thing to do is take a pause, and try to look through the unwanted behavior to the hurt, that way you can have compassion for your kid, and try to help them with more patience. If we only look at the expressed behavior, we can often respond with an equal or greater emotion, which does nothing to help the hurt underneath, and fuels the loader expression. If this continues long enough, the hurt becomes further hidden by the load emotion and it becomes hard to see how there is even a hurt behind it!
A Closer Look
This blog is designed to be more of an introduction to following blogs, which will take a closer look at each of the common behaviors I discussed above. As I write them, I will add links to take a closer look.