Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Early Adolescent Problem Behavior

You've probably known a parent of a middle-schooler who has lamented that aliens abducted their sweet child and returned a different, not so sweet preteen being. Early adolescence is a time of change in the relationship between parent and adolescent, and both have to adjust. Although most families weather these changes without serious difficulties, some families do have problems.

Some research shows that when parents are critical and angry with their young teens, they're more likely to misbehave at school and exhibit other bad behaviors. But youth also may act in hostile ways toward their parents.

Recent research studied more than 400 youth ages 11 to 14 and their parents to better understand youth problem behavior, hostility between parents and young teens, and the influence of peers. The research confirmed that when parents and adolescents were hostile with each other, even at low levels of hostility, young teens behaved in problematic ways, such as misbehaving at school, or lying and cheating. Hostility between parents and teens seemed to take a toll on parents' energy and patience, too, and they found it more difficult to set and follow consistent and effective rules.

There are ways for families—parents and youth—to make a smoother transition to the teen years. Strategies might include how to communicate respectfully with each other, managing conflict, and setting reasonable rules and limits. These patterns are best begun earlier in childhood, before families cross the sometimes-rocky terrain to adolescence.

Source: Family Album Radio, University of Florida Extension

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