The teen years can be turbulent for both the teen and his or her parents. You will survive! Remember: we all went through this stressful and often confusing period, but we all came out the other side.

The transition from childhood to adulthood starts for many at age 12 and can continue on through 19, 20, even up to age 25, when research shows the brain’s executive functioning is mostly fully developed. Until then, teens are struggling with separating from their parents or caretakers, developing their own individual identity, finding their place among peers, and exploring long-term goals and career paths. To add to the stress are hormones, opportunities and pressure to use alcohol and drugs, sexual identity issues, struggles to control impulses, and a media that promotes sex, violence, drugs, and angry outbursts as “normal.”

What’s a parent to do? How can we navigate this period with ease and grace? Here are some tips:

– Remember — it is not about you! Try not to take what your teens says or does personally. It is about them —¬†their stress, their development; not you or your parenting skills. Often teens act respectfully to teachers and their friends’ parents, then decompensate at home and act out. This is normal.

– Take care of yourself. While you are working, running your teen to soccer practice, and band, and dance, and looking at colleges, and worrying about them driving, remember to take good care of yourself and, if you are in a relationship — your spouse or significant other. After the teen years are over and your children are grown and launched successfully, there will only be you — and perhaps you and your mate. Nurture your soul, and your relationship.

– Stay firm yet calm. Yelling, threatening, punishing, and losing control will only escalate a situation and promote the same behavior in your teen. In all situations, stay calm. Where you once gave your child a “time out,” now, take one yourself. Breath, go for a walk, call a friend, then return to a situation when you are calm and can think more rationally.

– Know this period is a phase and will end!


Posted on by Diane in Adolescent Therapy, index, Mental Health


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