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My Teenage Son Ignores Me

Questioner

L

Reply Date

Aug 12, 2017

Question

I'm tired of yelling at my teenaged son. He just ignores me. What else can I do?

Counselor

Answer


As-Salaam ‘Alaikum,

The teen years are challenging indeed. While you did not say how old your son is, or if there were any other issues in particular, I do know from experience (as most parents learn) that yelling does not work, especially not with teens. Teens tend to tune you out after awhile when you yell, therefore it is like yelling at a blank wall-no response, yet they internalize that there was a reaction.

As frustrating as this is, silence or talking to your son may work better. Often times teens do things-often shocking things, for a response. If one is not given, the particular behavior eventually stops as it is not being reinforced in some way (yes, even yelling is a reinforcement as it is a reaction).

I would kindly suggest that when things are calm,you sit with your son, maybe take him out to lunch or spend the day with him doing something enjoyable. Begin a conversation with him about how much you love him and tell him you have noticed a change in his behavior. Ask him if anything is bothering him. If he doesn’t respond, just let him know you are there for him. This is the beginning to building trust and communication-his knowing you love him, and you are there for him. Once communication (besides yelling) is established, insha’Allah he will begin to open up and discuss the things that are bothering him or causing the behaviors for which caused you to yell.

You can also outline your expectations of his behavior, set boundaries and review it with him, and point out why it is an Islamic benefit for not only his life, but for how you have chosen to run your household. Ensure he is held accountable for his actions. Negative actions may cause the loss of a privilege, positive behavior results in a small reward. You don’t have to tell him this-however if you begin to implement this technique, he may begin to change. Additionally, encouraging him to attend Islamic events, going to the Masjid for prayer; encourage him to socialize with other positive Muslim teens his age, as well as praying together as a family is very important.

Teen years are not easy, but insha’Allah you both will get through them and he will return to being the fine young man you once knew! The teen years go by fast in retrospect, however sometimes it does feel like forever. You both are in our prayers.


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About Aisha Mohammad-Swan

Aisha Mohammad-Swan received her PhD in psychology in 2000. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York with a focus on PTSD, OCD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, and Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. She is currently studying for her certification in Islamic Chaplaincy, and takes Islamic courses at SHC. Aisha works at a Women's Daytime Drop in Center, and has her own part-time practice in which she integrates counseling and holistic health. Aisha also received an MA in Public Health/Community Development in 2009 and plans to open a community counseling/resource center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah.

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