I am serving a long-term substitute stint, teaching freshmen English all day long. It has been a humbling lesson in meeting teenagers where they are. Here, some observations:
It gets better. By the time they are 17 or 18, teenagers start to resemble something human again. They will remain adolescent for many years to come, but they regain some of the impulse control which disappears between the sixth and tenth grades.
If you are still living with tweens and younger teens, take heart: it gets better. In the meantime, we should probably change our expectations. If you’re butting heads with someone this age, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Through no fault of their own, most people aged 12 to 15 in middle America simply cannot be expected to:
1. focus on anything at all when an insect, spider or puppy is nearby.
2. regain composure within two hours of anyone farting.
3. sit in a chair 100% of the time without falling out of it (this mostly applies to boys, but it is true. Mark my words: your boys will fall out of their chairs).
4. explain why completed homework has not been turned into the teacher (they truly do not know).
5. follow instructions the first time they are given (I believe the magic number is five times. Five repetitions of instructions might produce results).
6. understand their own bursts of anger, tears, or apathy.
7. control their own volume (this mostly applies to girls, but it is true. Whether they are laughing, screaming or yelling, few things on the planet are louder than freshmen girls).
8. tell the truth about their feelings (they don’t understand them and they can’t explain them and they feel victimized by them).
9. view themselves with candor and love (they see themselves through the eyes of their peers, the media, and who-knows-what other influences. It's very confusing).
10. organize anything: their rooms, backpacks, even the sentences forming as they speak.
Hang in there, moms and dads. Breathe deeply; change your expectations; act accordingly. It does get better.