3 Types of Difficult Teens (and How to Live with Them)

When I heard about a book called How People Tick:  A Guide to Over 50 Types of Difficult People and How to Handle Them, I realized that I could probably think of 50 types of difficult teens and give advice on handling them.  However, in the interest of time, I’ll only mention 3 here (and address more in later blogs).

The Drama Queens/Kings
What They Do
While all teens are emotional, some go overboard with their overreactions.  They will turn small issues into major crises with excessive tears or tantrums.  It’s not so much that all the world’s a stage; it’s more like all the world is expected to be an audience.
How to Handle Them
I’ve found three methods to be useful.  The easiest is just to play dumb and pretend it’s not happening.  She yells, “Oh NO!  I can’t believe this!  My life is over!!”  You know she’s not talking about a terminal illness, so don’t even glance her way unless you’re directly addressed.  Then you can try the second method – underreacting.  Just shrug and say a noncommittal “Huh.”  If she doesn’t get the response she wants, she’ll go elsewhere for a more appreciative audience.  If she continues to be annoyingly theatrical, pull out the third method and call it what it is:  “Your reaction seems a little too dramatic for this situation.  I’m happy to listen when you can be calmer about it.”

The Surrogate Parents
What They Do
Often (but not always) oldest children, they think they’re part of the parenting team.  This entitles them to boss and/or correct their younger siblings, causing strife and unhappiness in the family.  Sometimes, these pseudo-parents think it’s also their right to boss around the real parents.
How To Handle Them
Keep reminding him that there are already parents in your house (or at least one parent), and he is not one of them.  Thank him for his helpfulness, but assure him that you are fully in charge of the situation.  Sometimes a hand held up, palm out, accompanied by the words, “I’ve got this!”  are all you need.

The Eeyores
What They Do
Perpetually out of sorts, they seem to be happy only when they’re complaining.  No matter how good something might seem to others, they’re likely to just shrug and say, “Whatever,” or “It’s okay, I guess.”  Or they’ll point out flaws that others didn’t see – and might not care about.
How To Handle Them
First of all, don’t fall into the trap of trying to cheer them up.  While they may enjoy the attention they’re getting as you try to make them happy, it’s not what they want, and they’ll only resist your efforts.  As with the dramatic teens, it’s best to play dumb and pretend you don’t notice their melancholy (unless, of course, you suspect something really is wrong).  When your question about where to go for dinner is met with a sigh and “I don’t care; whatever,” answer brightly with your own choice and assume your idea is met with approval.  Often they will forget their sadness and join in the fun with the rest of the gang.

One last tip:  most teens will become Difficult Teens of one kind or another.  In fact, some of them will be all three of these in the same day – or the same hour.  Learn to recognize them, acknowledge them, and deal with them appropriately.  Because the reality is – they’ll be back another day!

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2 Comments

  1. Brilliant as usual! My only comment would be that since I work in the Opera and Musical Theater area each summer with Theatrical types of young people, my “martyr” students are almost always looking for an audience. Ignoring their comments sometimes works but I know that in most cases, if I don’t call them on it right away I AM DOOMED to a summer of tolerating a Joan of Arc complaining about their status.

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