I love providing encouragement to parents! Parenting can be very difficult, but parenting teens is on a whole other level of crazy! :D
That is why I strive to make this a place of encouragement and hope! That is why I have asked teen expert and psychologist Holly McCullough from Overwhelmed Holly to bring us some insight for our parenting.
I remember my 13th birthday more than I do any other. I was so excited for my pool party. All of my friends were coming and so was the cutest boy in school. Then, it hit. My first menstrual cycle. After that, I spent two years never wanting to do anything but sit in my room and listen to music. I did not want to go to school and I certainly did not want to hang out with my two pesky younger sisters. You see, music was my escape from reality. I did not like the way I looked or the way I felt. I just wanted to be somewhere else. Looking back at family pictures during that time, you can see my total disdain for life just by the frown on my face. We laugh about it now, but I gave my mother and father a run for their money. I remember mom telling me several times: “I only hope your child gives you tenfold what you are giving me, then you will know how I feel”.
Well, guess what? I think that is exactly what I got. When my daughter hit 12, something clicked and it was not for the better. I had no idea how to handle her or how to make her happy. In the moments of her happiness, the slightest word would send her marching back up to her room. Sometimes, you did not know what you had said or done to upset her.
Now, I have another round to go. I have a 17 and 13 year old boy. If that is not enough, I have 12 year old twins (boy and girl). Having a large family is great, or is it? When they are teens, it can be quite tough. The house is nothing but an emotional roller coaster. My sons seem to be upset every time I tell them to shut the Xbox down and my daughter cannot seem to be able to survive without her phone. However, I have learned how to handle these situations much better now.
I did not understand how to handle teens until I started my Psychology courses five years ago.
I think it is important that parents understand exactly what teens are going through. It makes it a little easier to swallow. When children are young, they tend to get a free pass. When the two year old colors on a wall, we get upset. However, we know they are growing and learning. We do not seem as bothered by youngsters misbehaving.
Did you know teens are still growing and learning?
Matter of fact, this is their natural way of preparing for adulthood. Not only are they developing, they are dealing with raging hormones. These changes are just as hard on them as it is you.
Hormonal changes can begin as early as 10 and go on until around 16 years of age. Boys tend to start a little later than the girls. They are becoming sexually mature. A teen’s body is preparing him/her for family life. They have no control over this change. Not only does it change them physically, but it can interfere with emotions as well. They feel awkward and their peers are a huge influence on them. When they are uncomfortable in their own skin, they assume their friends see this too.
Not only is this going on, but the brain is still in development. This is something that we seem to understand better when they are toddlers. This “reworking” of the brain gets extremely intense during the teenage years and will last through the mid twenties.
Do you wonder why your teen or young adult has rash behavior? The prefrontal cortex is still developing. This area is responsible for our emotions and impulses.
Unfortunately, we hear far too often about young kids and driving accidents. I have countless friends who have children who have gotten into wrecks for speeding down the road. On social media, we hear about these challenges they get involved in. Now, you understand why. Their brains do not reason as well as ours just yet.
We need to look at teens a little differently and understand they are still developing.
Their bodies are preparing for adulthood. It will not be long before their logic and reason returns. They no longer want to be around you as much because they are growing into adults. They need to learn these things in order to venture off on their own, create their own family, and their own life.
What I have learned to do for my teens now is not only understand this, but try and be a positive force in their life as much as possible. I listen, understand and validate their emotions. This does not mean I let them get by with bad behavior. Just like a toddler, there are consequences for their actions. I try to help them think outside their box and let them know this is a phase that will pass.
Some suggestions from Psychologists:
Keep a routine and make sure they get plenty of rest, they need it.
Allow them time for gaming, phones, etc., but put a cap on it.
Praise them as often as you can
Keep an eye on their activities to ensure they are not getting involved in something that could put them in harm’s way.
Keep an eye on friends and what they are up to.
Do not put your burdens on them. We may vent to them more or tell them more than we used to. Perhaps,we may discuss information with our spouses more openly in front of them. They are still children and they find a way to blame themselves for the problems going on.
Stay positive and understanding. Allow them time to talk without advice. Just listen.
This period of time can be trying for parents and teens alike. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
A teen will eventually grow into a rational adult. The last thing we want to do is push them away when they need our support the most. This is all part of the growing process. Sadly, it is a sign they are beginning to learn to move on without us. Enjoy this time because it is precious. The next step will be on their own.
Holly McCullough is a wife and mother to five children. She has a BA in Psychology and a certification in Family Studies. Holly has had a blog on family for over three years. She uses this blog to share her perspectives in Psychology and tie them in with her Christian faith. You can connect with her at Overwhelmed Holly.