Do you have problems understanding your teenage kids?
Are you constantly finding that your teen is spending more time outside than inside the house? Or wearing clothes and makeup in ways that you wouldn’t approve? We all have our issues with our teens.
Adolescence is a period of changes and indecision among our kids. Some go to extremes of rebellion and violence that leaves us worried.
How should we deal with these changes? And what exactly is happening inside the mind of our teens?
Why teenagers are difficult to understand
The difficulty that parents face when dealing with their teenage kids has a biological basis. Adolescence is a period when physical and mental developments are in full gear. Physical changes will make teens be more aware of their looks. Inside the brain, dopamine, the “happy hormone” begins to affect how teens manage their emotions.
Natural changes in the “wiring” of parts of the brain also affect teen depression and anxiety. Meanwhile, a teen’s tendency to take risks can be explained through evolution. Because the average lifespan is shorter today, most teens behave by following a carpe diem lifestyle — seizing the day and thinking less about the consequences of their actions. Because of these changes, we see our teens begin to experiment with their looks, behaviour and how they deal with peers.
Parents who begin to feel they cannot control their teens may often trace their problems to contrasting interests and lack of communication. When this happens, we cannot force our kids to do what we want. Changes like these are natural — even we went through this phase. But there are certain things we can do to make our relationship with our teens more peaceful and healthy.
5 tips when dealing with teens
Here are 5 tips that parents can do to feel closer to their teens and understand their needs:
1. Change our expectations
At this point, a teen’s brain also begins to consider their peers’ views when forming decisions. Because of this, teens are very changeable and impulsive.
At this critical point of their brain’s development, it’s important for parents to let go of any expectations and to give them enough space to adjust and understand the world on their own.
Allowing them to self-discover helps, and will mold their personality and interests. Setting boundaries like curfews and chores are also acceptable to keep tabs on their activities and to teach them responsibility. However, limitations like this should also mean that we give our teens freedom to choose and control their lives.
2. Avoid nagging, shouting, and preaching
Sometimes it’s tempting for parents to nag, shout and preach to their teens. But instead of teaching them good behaviour, we end up introducing them to bad behaviour and telling them that we know better than them.
What’s more, we may end up teaching bad behaviour by being aggressive, critical and unrelenting. Adolescence is the time when our kids learn to overcome mistakes on their own way.
Confrontations tend to push away than demonstrate proper behaviour.
When teens say “you don’t understand,” often times they are right. Instead of doing all the talk, parents should listen to their teens once in a while.
Also, communication should be balanced both ways. Talk to your teens, but avoid topics that would sound too preachy to them. Instead, focus on their interests and develop that path. In time, they may soon volunteer information themselves, making your relationship more honest.
4. Make time for them
We are often too involved in our work to realise that our teens, and our kids in general, need more than just the food we bring to the table.
Our physical presence in their lives is more important. Set aside time during the day to let them know you’re there and that you’re ready to listen or give your support.
Create a home environment that also welcomes their presence and that makes them feel emotionally comfortable.
5. Respect your teen
Teenagers should also be treated with the same degree of respect we reserve for our adult family and friends. Give them space and privacy.
Never judge or belittle their decisions. Ask for their opinion and be fair to them. If you don’t approve of their actions, explain your side thoroughly and do not rely on “just because.” Encourage them and be involved in all their activities and interests.
Be humble, and they will follow in your footsteps.
There are instances when a teen’s environment, upbringing and biological influences change him or her in an extreme way. Teens that are more given to depression, violence and recklessness should be treated in a more delicate way. In these cases, outside help may be needed from doctors, therapists or counsellors.
However, a parent’s role does not end here. On the contrary, parents who are dealing with troubled teens should do more to understand their kids and to guide them through this phase.
The first step to deal with a troubled teen is to have an unbiased look into the root of the teen’s extreme emotion.
Teens who are dealing with emotions such as frustration, embarrassment, rejection, shame, fear and others may also find themselves unable to express their minds and hearts. Being open, constructive and objective are a few ways to guide teens away from these negative feelings.
Patience is important when it comes to teenage kids. It doesn’t matter if their interests are not particularly shared by us. Their lives are their own. We should not feel the need to mold our teens. Instead we should only guide them in this most unpredictable stage of their lives.