Best way to handle your TEEN
All parents were once teens themselves, so why does the gap seem so large these days? With more and more teens feeling misunderstood, we look at the hormonal changes and how they impact a teen 's mood and emotions. Find out how to speak to your teen in a non-combative way for best results…
A Teen in Turmoil: why it happens!
1. The birds and the bees
Sex hormones literally surge through the teenage years and cause havoc! These hormones are released during puberty (estrogen and progesterone in girls and testosterone in guys). Aside form the obvious physical changes you may see in your teen, they also seem to cause emotional changes: the ups and downs that sometimes make your teen seem so out of control and impossible to deal with.
Our psychologist advises: "Make allowances that your teen may not always have a sunny disposition. Let her know you are there for her is she needs you, but give her space to simmer down. If your teen tells you she doesn't want to talk about an issue the worst thing you can do is nag about it. Remember to live what you preach - you have told her that 'no' means no - so respect that when she says no, she means it. Look into natural ingredients that can help with PMS and other hormonal issues that may affect her moods. Femalite is one such remedy - fabulous for addressing moodiness that is exacerbated by monthly ovulation. Often the mood swings that parents see in their teens can look very much like depression, which could make any parent worry. Changes in appetite and sleep patterns, moodswings and social withdrawal are all common in the teen years, but can also be symptoms of depression. It can be difficult t tell them apart. If you are worried or if your teenager self harms or talks of suicide, it is important to consult a psychologist to rule out a Clinical Depression. Moodiness and common depressive symptoms can also be helped with herbal medicine such as Feelgood Health MindSoothe - a natural antidepressant which is non- addictive."
2. Finding her footing and self-indulgence
During the teenage and young adult phase, teens are trying to find their own place in the world. Your teen is no longer a child, yet not quite an adult. Can you imagine what this limbo feels like? This causes a stage of experimentation over what boundaries can be pushed, how much leeway she has with each parent. Our psychologist advises: "While it is important to remain a united front when it comes to parenting, also remember that this is the time for building a special relationship with your teen. If he would rather speak to his dad about insecurities, let him do so. He may come to you for advice on peer pressure or vice versa. The most important thing is to show him that you are open for discussion on any topic HE feels comfortable discussing with either of you at any time. Also, the me-me-me phase is actually a good thing! Teenagers are focused on themselves as important cogs in the world."
Try "Teenage as a second language" - a great book to help parents with groundbreaking strategies you can use to maintain good communication, healthy interaction, and strong connections to your teen, no matter how rocky the road to puberty becomes.
3. Definitely no babying!
During your child's teenage years, try to start adding small responsibilities and privileges so that a sense of adulthood is tangible. Our psychologist advises: "Many parents expect that their children will miraculously turn into responsible adults as the clock strikes twelve on their 18th birthday. This is just not so. Successful teenage transition happens when parents allocate 'bite-size' and appropriate responsibilities and/or privileges to their teenager - and this creates not only a sense of trust and respect, but great satisfaction and positive self-esteem. Just remember not to put too much pressure on the task - let them know that if they struggle, you are there to help and that it's not the end of the world if things go pear-shaped. You may even ask your teen for advice on some of your casual issues (never issues that are too adult), this creates a great level of trust and two-way communication."
4. Privacy or else...
There is nothing more violating to a teen than an invasion of privacy. As tempted as you may be - never break the unsaid privacy barrier with your child. Our psychologist advises: "Reading her diary, snooping in her things or listening in on her phone calls is not only disrespectful to your teen, but it is the quickest way to have her clam up on you and ruin the TRUST that is vital for getting through teenage years smoothly. Once this trust is broken she may resort to drastic measures if she is ever in trouble or turn to strangers for guidance that may not have her best interests at heart. That's the last thing you want to happen! On rare occasions, in a dire emergency when you really feel her life is at stake (e.g. she cannot be located), you may need to break a privacy rule, but on the whole - RESPECT her privacy if you want to be involved. Tell her that HONESTY is the most important rule for both of you."
5. The act of rebellion
Most teens (off the record) will tell you that the minute you try and assert control over any aspect of their life, they rebel. You say she should wear a dress, she wears the same jeans for a week. You tell her she should have a party at the ice rink, she throws a pool party. You comment that you dislike her friend Sarah, she tells you they are going away on a long weekend together. Our psychologist advises: "Sometimes a teen may do this intentionally, but on the whole they are fairly unaware that they do the complete opposite of your wishes. Remember that your teenager is trying to become aleader of her world and she wants to feel like she is living her decisions. The reason that teenagers have a need to rebel is that they are trying to establish their own identity, which is a good thing. This may mean that they want to express their 'separateness' from you by dressing and speaking differently! The best approach to this is 'Don't sweat the small stuff!' Getting into arguments about clothes and make up will affect your relationship with your teen and will also make them more determined to rebel. Ask yourself ' Would I prefer it if he rebelled by wearing tatty jeans or by taking drugs' The answer - allow your teen the freedom to express themselves and assert their own individuality via 'safer' options like clothing, rather than encouraging more serious rebellion by being too strict! The best plan is usually to remain neutral but let her know that you believe in her to make the right decision and that you support her. This shows that you see her as an adult and it opens a line of respect, which leads to good communication." You may want to also try the fabulously titled book: "Yes, your teen is crazy - loving your kid without losing your mind."
Above all, let your teen know that she is the most important thing to you, that you love her unconditionally and that you are there for her in any crisis. That you respect her, that you think she is intelligent and trust her to make clear decisions. Let her know that at any stage you are there for her - and that you are her biggest fan.
You may also benefit from reading our article on study tips for every age - so that you can help your teen in a constructive and supportive way.