... is challenging for parents, but remember that the teen years are often the most difficult part of a child's life. No longer a child, yet definitely not an adult, a teen is stuck in the middle. Compound this with an uncertain sense of self (because that self is changing), the angst and embarrassment that often accompanies puberty, and adolescent crushes. Mix in raging hormones and you have a recipe for mood swings, suddenly outbursts, defensiveness, defiance and withdrawal.
Recently, it has been discovered that adolescence is a time of neuronal pruning—when the brain gets rid of entire neuronal networks it no longer uses. Some neuropsychologists blame this process for the poor impulse control and immature decision-making in a formally reliable child that is often seen during the teen years. What's a caring parent to do?
Five Teen Parenting Tips
- Relax. You made it through the teen years and so will your child. Let your teen express his feelings and show respect when he withdraws or needs some space. Refrain from taking his outbursts personally. Remember how difficult it is to go through the transformation of adolescence. Your child is transforming physically, emotionally and spiritually. This can be a painful second birth.
- Of course the first tip does not apply if you suspect that your teen is using drugs or engaging in behavior that is dangerous to him or someone else. Don't sit by and watch him destroy his life. If you do, you will regret your inaction when the situation escalates or a tragedy occurs. If you feel disconnected from your child, consult with a therapist about the best way to reach him. But first, try to find a way to talk to your teen as honestly and lovingly as you can. Focus on your love for him and your concern for his future and his safety. Don't take out your podium and give a lecture. Open your ears and listen with your heart. Draw him out, make an emotional connection and help him discover the source of his behavior.
For kids who are not receptive to these strategies, read our articles on parenting a troubled teen and tough love parenting. If you suspect that your teen has an issue with alcohol or drugs, make sure to read this article on teen alcohol abuse.
- Do not make unsolicited and/or negative comments about changes in your teen's dress or physical appearance. Although a child who changes his look may be looking for attention or may be signaling to you that he feels like an outcast, give him the freedom to experiment with his identity if he needs to, as long as he is not endangering himself or others.
Teen parenting is not about coercion or control—it's about giving your child the space and guidance to grow into a mature adult. However, if you have a teenager, who seems to be chronically defiant, mean-spirited, or is struggling in school, then you must read this article about angry teenagers: why and how to help them.
Encourage your teen's striving toward adulthood. Note the instances in which he uses good judgment, acts with diplomacy or in the best interests of someone weaker or more vulnerable than him. Note aloud, but don't over-compliment in a way that might seem manipulative or phony. For instance, I often tell my son is that I'm proud of the kind of man he is becoming. Even though he's only twelve, this is an acknowledgment of his developing maturity and always elicits a smile.
- Teen parenting requires finding creative ways to maintain your connection with your child and forging new ones. Expect that your child may need more privacy, then respect him when he does. If you treat your child the way you would treat adults and are available when he needs you, he will reconnect with you when he's ready in a way that feels right to him.
Teen parenting can be frightening at times, but as an adult, you must summon the courage to trust in the foundation you have built and give your adult-in-the-making the room to discover who he is and what he wants to do with his life.
About the Author: Laura Ramirez is the author of the award-winning
, Keepers of the Children. The book teaches parents how to raise children to develop their strengths, so they become progressively aware of who they are and what their strengths are as they're growing up and know how to live a life that is an expression of those strengths. Ms. Ramirez is available for speaking engagements. Use the Contact Us link on the navigation bar to find out about her speaking fees and availability.
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Copyright © by Laura Ramirez. All rights reserved. You may not copy this article in full or in part without the express written consent of the author, however, you may point your web visitors to it. Teen Parenting
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