Surviving adolescence can be a tough road if you are a parent with a resident ‘Prince Boofhead’, Julie Houghton writes.
So you have a brooding male teen with an attitude problem? Join the club of parents of Prince Boofheads because you have a prime example right under your nose.
Teenager behavioural experts Michael Carr-Gregg and Elly Robinson are on hand to help you navigate your way in their new book The Prince Boofhead Syndrome: Surviving adolescent boys.
So what are the hallmarks of identifying whether your once gorgeous little 10-year-old has morphed into Prince Boofhead?
Prince Boofhead (let’s call him PB) never does household chores like picking up the dog poo or helping with the dishes, and at times he is self-absorbed, lazy, spoiled and disrespectful. That’s a PB, says Elly Robinson.
Well-meaning parents contribute to the emergence of PBs by rushing in to fix their problems and make life easy for them, so they develop a sense of entitlement.
While Elly says that certain temperaments can lend themselves to boofhead behaviour, family life plays an important role.
“Teenagers don’t always have to be happy or indulged,” Elly says.
”If they are constantly buffered from the possibility that they played a part in a less than ideal outcome, they start to believe that they are destined for greatness, which can be an emotional and behavioural ticking time bomb.”
Our brains aren’t fully developed until well into our 20s, so Elly advises parents to call out PBs when they are behaving in unacceptable ways. We need to be good role models and help them to understand other’s perspectives.
“Disrespectful, contemptuous or ungrateful behaviours need to be addressed from the very first moment they occur—if the behaviour becomes a pattern, or in worst cases, becomes violent or abusive, then parents need to recognise that they have a problem and get some professional help,” Elly says.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, which involves knowing the difference between authoritarian and authoritative parenting.
“Authoritative parenting is ‘firm but fair’ parenting, with clear standards for children’s behaviour. Authoritative parents will say no (even though saying yes might be much easier), but they understand that the best lessons are learned when their teenagers are allowed to make mistakes and learn from them in a safe environment. It’s important to know where to draw the line. Violence is never acceptable, especially when aimed at parents,” Elly explains.
So why do there seem to be more PBs around today than in the past?
Elly says that the swing of the pendulum away from the authoritarian parenting of the past has gone too far in the other direction, with the fundamentals of good manners, setting boundaries and insisting on adequate sleep and good nutrition for our teenagers not being automatically accepted as they were in the past, so parents need to step up if they want to banish the PB from their daily lives.
“We need to empower parents to say no, set limits and boundaries and be their child’s parent, not their friend.”
You can read the Warcry review of The Prince Boofhead Syndrome: Surviving adolescent boys here.