Control your temper when parenting teenagers
The teenage years are quite challenging for parents as their children transition to adolescence. It is also a period of exploration for teenagers as they become more independent, making this change challenging for both teenagers and parents. Discipline issues become tricky just as it were when their children were toddlers, but during this period of transition, parents need to adjust their parenting with flexibility so that they can navigate any conflicts which arise from teenagers wanting autonomy and more input into the decision-making process.
As a result dads were more likely to think their teen is being intentionally difficult or was pushing their buttons and thus their discipline was guided by these beliefs.
A new study investigates both mother’s and father’s capacity for self-regulation as well as hostile parenting during their child’s early adolescence. For this study, 193 fathers, mothers, and their early adolescent (ages 12–14) participated in laboratory-based research assessments spaced approximately 1 year apart. The researchers looked at how mothers and fathers regulated their stress in response to conflict with their children. They also examined how the stress response affected their discipline of their child. The researchers measured the parent’s psychological regulation using RMSSD, a widely used measure to assess heart rate variability.
The researchers found that parents — both mothers and fathers — who were less capable of reducing their temper were more likely to be harsh, punitive and hostile in their disciplining. The researchers also measured set shifting — the parents ability to be flexible and consider alternative factors such as their child’s age and development — and found that fathers were not as good as mothers at set shifting and were less able to control their physiological anger response. As a result, dads were more likely to think their teen is being intentionally difficult or was pushing their buttons and thus their discipline was guided by these beliefs. However, the researchers also found those dads who were better at set shifting than others were able to counteract their anger response.
The findings have important implications for building and refining parenting programs according to the researchers. It also shows that the ability to be more flexible in their responses to conflict with their teenage children will be more helpful to fathers more than mothers.
Source: Development and Psychopathology
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