Everybody seems to be at least somewhat fearful of adolescence – the years of the teenager. I know I was! I didn’t really know what to expect – I just had some crazy ideas of what they would be like when I was raising my kids, and a lot of it turned out to be nonsense.
It is much easier in many ways when kids are younger. Younger kids like getting a hug, getting a book read to them, etc. But teens present a great deal differently and seem much harder to please.
Deep down inside, though, even though they may not admit it, they still need a whole lotta loving care. For example, they might like small surprises, and having a well-stocked refrigerator may make your teen a lot easier to deal with! Their young metabolisms often run so high, that they seem constantly hungry. But make sure to have healthy versions of yummy foods and drinks that do not sabotage their health please!
If you didn’t already know this, in adolescence, friends usually seem more important than family. How and what their peers think of them can be highly stressful, and they may want to do extreme things to fit in that may not seem acceptable to you, the parent.
Teens can be argumentative and will seem to take out their feelings on the people they trust the most – you! They are experimenting with independence.
Teens can become emotionally distant, but they usually swing back to their sweet selves later on.
Teens may be embarrassed to be seen with you in public.
They are experimenting with their image, identity, and they may become sexually active.
They can become quite impulsive and take big risks, so you’ll want to have a plan in place to deal with that effectively.
Teens often have issues with sleeping. It becomes biologically more difficult for them to fall asleep early.
And of course, they will want to make their own decisions about what affects them and their lives (even if they’re not making the best ones).
The teen body is changing, and your teen may have a lot of feelings and thoughts about the way they look. Yet they don’t always share that with you.
The teen brain changes biologically, and your teen’s body is making sex hormones, which in turn triggers physiological changes and romantic feelings. This can be very confusing!
Cognition, the ability to think and reason, will continue to change throughout the teen years well into the 20s (and beyond). Regulation of emotions in the brain is among the last stages of brain development. So, it’s harder to control emotions for them (as it is for so many adults too).
Some tips for you as parents are try not to be judgmental or come across as critical; this may seem pretty hard to do but your love means more to them than they can ever admit.
Understand that they are trying to learn to be more independent, so they need some space to do this. Eventually, their values may line up more closely to your own.
As their behavior may seem rejecting to you, it’s about them trying to navigate through the maze of becoming more independent, and not as much about rejection.
Help your teens to accept their up and down feelings; share that you also deal with this at times, as well. They will need to know you’ll be there for them no matter what.
Practice active listening and try to pick up on clues about what they may be dealing with.
It’s not easy knowing how much space is enough and how much is too much – but they definitely need some time and space for their developing independence.
Remember, no matter how they act, you are your teen’s most important and main role model. They will be watching to see how you cope with life’s obstacles and modeling you.
If your teen seems down or angry too much of the time, it is probably important to get some professional help. You don’t want something to develop into a bigger issue than it has to be.
And as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
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