The dreaded stage of growth where teens turn into something not quite adult, but certainly not child. It can be a scary time for parents because of the natural tendency of their teen to move away from their control. Your kid no longer mimics the behavior you have modeled and set as the standard. You find them confiding and taking direction from their peers rather than from you. While we know that the purpose of adolescence is for one to identify and individualize themselves, we can never be certain that our child will emerge from this phase healthy and strong. Even experts in the field of child development may not be able to correctly identify whether a teen is on track or coming off the rails.
Our fears about our children’s growth during adolescence are reasonable. We may be afraid that our child will make mistakes so terrible that it will harm the rest of their lives. We fear that they will not be the kind of person we always imagined they would be. To make matters worse, our emotional attachment to them can be explosive, often causing greater anxiety and confusion for both.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Don’t become short-sighted. This period often lasts into young adulthood. You may not see a “settling down” for several years.
Many times, teens who show the most visible sign of struggle are establishing their sense of themselves internally.
Adolescence can appear as both manic and depressed. Your child may seem extremely excited about something one day and then moping the next.
It is extremely important that parents be open to the idea that their own upbringing may not have been healthy. Being aware of your own upbringing can help you be more understanding and less critical.
You must be willing to grow along with your child! Being or becoming open-minded is imperative if you are to help them navigate.
Try not to be too emotional. It’s not personal.
The beauty of being a parent is that you have control over how you parent! Here are 9 things you can teach your child as they develop toward and through adolescence. Take the time to find situations in which you can address topics related to these 9 traits and skills. You can even keep a checklist and mark off when you’ve had a discussion on a topic. This will help you remember to do it and identify areas you may not have addressed.
1. Emotional self-awareness
Take opportunities to increase their ability to recognize their emotions. Help them identify their own unique capabilities.
Take the time to help them gain the ability to understand others’ feelings.
Encourage their ability to express beliefs and thoughts openly and to defend their legitimate ideas in a constructive, non-aggressive manner.
4. Interpersonal relationships
Increase their ability to establish and maintain satisfactory relationships that are characterized by intimacy and an exchange of emotions.
5. Anger and impulse control
Help them identify anger triggers and ways of dealing with it. Teach them relaxation techniques for calming the mind.
6. Problem solving
Encourage them to identify a problem and then to define, create and implement effective solutions.
7. Stress management
Teach them to how to withstand adverse events and stressful situations without having feelings of failure. Help them to learn the effect of stress on the body, thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
8. Conflict management
Teach that conflict can be positive if managed well and teach conflict resolution styles and how to use it.
Take opportunities to show the lighter side of life even in the face of disagreements and problems.
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