Do you feel your teen is frequently abusive with you? If so take action to help prevent this type of verbally abusive behavior. To help understand where your teen’s anger could be stemming from and what you can do to deal with your teen’s anger, I have interviewed psychologist Dr. Leon Pereira.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a Clinical and Behavioral Psychologist in private practice in Kaneohe, HI, since Feb 1998. In the past, I have worked in crisis intervention, day-treatment and inpatient settings. I am also an Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Hawaii Pacific University.”
“I have a PhD in Clinical Psychology and Behavioral Psychology from the University of Hawaii. I also have an MA in those fields as well as in Social Psychology. I frequently work with children and teens who engage in disruptive behavior, particularly noncompliance and verbal aggression.”
Where does a teen’s verbal abuse commonly stem from?
“Verbal abuse or aggression commonly reflects anger. When a teen is angry with one or both parents he or she may verbally abuse the parent or parents. The teen may be disrespectful only when angry or may be disrespectful or even angry all the time. In the latter case, he or she is more likely to be abusive much of the time.”
“A common misconception is that teen years are synonymous with trouble. Adolescence is a time of change and challenge but teens do not necessarily rebel against authority. More often than not, there have been pre-existing problems in the relationship between parent and child. Around puberty, as the brain develops further, teens can reason and reflect in a way that they were incapable of before. They may then become resentful and angry about how their parent(s) had been treating them.”
“The parent or parents’ behavior can also be an influence. The parents’ behavior can serve as a model for the teen’s behavior. If the parent is verbally aggressive, the teen is more likely to be verbally abusive. Also, a teen with ADHD-Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type may impulsively speak disrespectfully.”
What can a parent do to deal with their teen’s verbal abuse?
“First, the parent should not engage in verbal abuse himself or herself. That is, the parent needs to set an example by being a good role model. Second, when a teen is abusive, ignore the behavior. Many parents find this difficult to do as they believe this amounts to the teen getting away with being disrespectful. However, the parent should not pay attention to a teen that is being inappropriate nor should she or he engage in an argument or shouting match with the teen.”
“Instead ignore the teen; walk away if necessary. After the teen has calmed down, the parent should talk to him or her calmly about whatever the issue is.”
What type of professional help is available for a parent who is dealing with their teen’s verbal abuse?
“A professional with Cognitive-Behavior therapy or Behavior therapy training would help the parent and teen to identify the underlying issues and the problems with the dynamics of their relationship. The professional could also teach the parent behavior management skills–such as using clear instructions, praise and reward, active ignoring, etc. He can help the teen improve his or her self-control and anger management skills–including better frustration tolerance.”
Thank you Dr. Pereira for doing the interview on how a parent can deal with their teen’s verbal abuse. For more information about Dr. Pereira or his work you can check out his website on http://homepage.mac.com/drleonp.
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