The transition from childhood to adulthood can be quite the roller coaster. Teenagers go through a lot of changes and each requires new adjustments. As a parent, there is a delicate balance of boundaries and freedom for your teenager. There are certain aspects in their life that are changing drastically and outline below are some things your teen may be going through.
As their body changes and they begin to find their identities, teenagers may feel overwhelmed or emotional. Teens can face a large amount of pressure from various aspects of their life. Another aspect that they may be struggling with is being dependent, but actively seeking to be independent.
In many instances they are determining who they are and what it means to be independent. This may be the first time that they are experiencing certain things on their own and it can easily be overwhelming. By being a ‘home base’ and resource, your teen will be able to figure out this emotional roller coaster.
As a teenager, there are physiological and neurological changes going on that influence their behavior. The brain is in a state of transition. New cells are developing and old connections are being pruned. The pre-frontal area of the brain isn’t fully developed in teenagers. This part of the brain is responsible for evaluating consequences, thinking critically, and controlling impulses. Teenagers sometimes can’t fully evaluate their actions and the consequences which adds to the difficulty of making adult decisions.
Secondly, teenagers are beginning their sexual maturity and experiencing physical growth. These changes \ are unique to them and don’t happen in a consistent manner. Teens can feel clumsy, gangly, awkward, and self-conscious in their new skin. They may be constantly comparing themselves to others and confused at what is happening to their changing bodies.
As a parent, it is important to understand they their self-esteem may not be very high. They are learning how to be this ‘new’ person and it may come with some trial and error.
Independence and Identity
As mentioned before, teenagers are seeking to be independent. This may translate into trying on different peer groups and determining their own values. In a process of finding themselves, they are given new responsibilities such as driving and staying up later. It may be confusing and frustrating to feel the need to be adult without actually being one.
Teenagers begin to develop their own perspective and understand that their feelings may be unique. In this manner, teenagers feel that there is no one that can possibly understand how they feel or what they are going through. Parents can help teens find a happy medium by allowing them some independence with reason restrictions or expectations or by granting certain privileges when earned and adjusting accordingly.
As much as you may worry about your kid, privacy is both wanted and needed. There is a way to keep a comfortable distance and step in if anything problematic occurs. The balance can be found by making sure that you know where your teen is going and with whom, etc., but understanding that you don’t need to know every detail. As your teen starts to discover what it means to be them, they are going to want privacy and be thankful when it’s granted.
It may be difficult at times when your teen breaks trust that was built. Taking baby steps and reminding your teen that you only want the best for them can help ease this tension.
How to help your teen
With all the crazy things going on with your teen, it may get a little overwhelming and confusing. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) suggests that parents use a variety of ways to encourage a happy and healthy teen. They suggest the following methods for preparing for your child’s teenage years:
- Provide a safe and loving home environment
- Create an atmosphere of honesty, trust, and respect
- Allow age-appropriate independence and assertiveness.
- Develop a relationship that encourages your teen to talk to you when he or she is upset.
- Teach responsibility for your teen’s belongings
- Teach basic responsibility for household chores
- Teach the importance of accepting limits.
Talk to kids early on and often. Staying in touch and expressing your love for them is really important. As with most issues with your teen, there is a delicate balance to make all those involved happy. Teens need a good home base and will appreciate it (even if they don’t show or communicate it). By being flexible and keeping a watchful eye, you’ll be able to watch as your teen navigates their way to adulthood. It may be an interesting ride, but it’s worth it.