Parenting tips: Dealing with the challenges of adolescence
Understand the changes and challenges of teenagers
When parents have babies, they often don't think about how they will deal with future challenges. Why should they? There's an adorable, snuggly, innocent infant bundled up in their arms. This gentle little angel will be this sweet forever, right? WRONG. There will be various milestones to come, some of which will be absolutely glorious, and others like something out of a horror movie - no, I'm not exaggerating (have you ever witnessed a snotty toddler with crazy eyes thrusting around on the floor, screaming for 30 minutes straight?). Fast forward 10 years to the next milestone: adolescence.
Adolescence is defined as the period between childhood and adulthood, usually occurring around the ages of 12 - 18. It's not an easy time for kids or their parents. Can you remember your teenage years? What stands out for me when I think back to my teenage years is a whirlwind of conflicting emotions, frustrations, insecurities and naivety. There seemed to be an ongoing battle between me and my parents because of course, their entire life's mission was to RUIN MY LIFE! Why can't I go to a club filled with 30 year old drunk men?! I'm 14, I'm old enough to make my own decisions! Ring a bell?
While adolescents may come across as selfish, lazy, impulsive, careless and sometimes even demented, there's reason behind all of this. The teenage years are a time in a young person’s life where they move from dependency on their parents to independence and maturity, and there are a lot of changes happening in their bodies, too! The teenage milestone is when they undergo biological changes and cognitive changes - all these changes can be very overwhelming for both the teenager and for the parents.
Tips for parents dealing with teenagers
Dealing with the challenges of adolescence is never easy, but there are a few things that parents can do to soften the blow. Remember how you felt as a teenager? Be compassionate to your developing child! It's common for teenagers to feel as if their parents don't understand them, and this is often because parents are fighting to maintain a superior role and don't make an effort connect on the same level as their teenagers.
Parents will stand on their head, dance to the most ridiculous songs and play goofy games for their toddlers - not because they enjoy it but because they want their toddler to be happy! Yet somehow, when our kids become teenagers, we become so disconnected from them! Yes, adolescence is a huge challenge for parents (and not quite as fun as having a toddler), but it's a necessary stage. It's essential for a teenager's development to learn independence and make mistakes. When parents try stand in the way of their teenager's development, teenagers rebel.
Try be relatable as possible, e.g. share embarrassing/funny stories from your teen years and encourage them to open up to you! Allow them freedom to be independent and to make mistakes (within reason of course) and be there to guide them in the best way possible. Arguments and rebellion are inevitable during the adolescent time frame, but when you take a healthy approach to parenting a teenager, you will encounter fewer battles!
Biological changes in teenagers
When your child becomes a teenager, there are various physical changes you will notice. Because childlike features begin to fade, and more adult-like features set in, teenagers begin to develop a sense of awkwardness and insecurity. They become aware of their rapid body changes and usually start to feel uncomfortable in their own skin! These physical changes are happening because hormone levels are changing, helping your child reach sexual maturity.
Hormones affect your teenager not only physically but also emotionally. You may notice that girls become more sensitive and cry more easily. Boys may start to get more aggressive and moody. Combining the raging hormones with physical transformations (and cognitive development which we'll get to further down below), it's no wonder you're left with an overly-emotional, tired and 'difficult' adolescent. Be patient with your growing child but don't forget to set boundaries!
Physical changes when girls hit puberty
- Development of breasts.
- Start of menstruation. Menstrual cramps and moodiness may be an issue and can respond well to natural remedies like Feelgood Health's Femalite.
- Increased body odour.
- Pubic hair, underarm hair and leg hair becomes more evident.
- Pimples and acne may become a problem and can be assisted with a good skin care routine, a healthy diet and regular exercise.
- Widened hips.
Physical changes when boys hit puberty
- Deepening of voice
- Pubic hair, underarm hair, leg hair, arm hair, chest hair and facial hair becomes more evident
- Pimples and acne may become a problem
- Increased body odour
These biological changes in adolescents are inevitable and almost always make teenagers feel uncomfortable. The best thing parents can do is to start warming their child up to the upcoming developments at ages 8 or 9. Get your child age-appropriate books that will educate them about the human body, with simple illustrations so they will know what to expect. Please don't ever, ever, ever embarrass your child about their changing body.
Tip: It's not uncommon for teenagers to develop depression, anxiety or anger. If you notice these symptoms in your teenager, you may want to consider MindSoothe, a natural anti-depressant and mood tonic.
Cognitive changes in teenagers
Cognitive development refers to the development of the brain's ability to think and reason. While cognitive development begins in childhood, adolescence is the start of a more complex thinking process. Cognitive development is when a child really begins to form their own personal opinion of the world. This is exactly the reason why they may start challenging your ideologies and rejecting authority figures! This often takes parents by surprise, resulting in parents labelling their child as stubborn or argumentative. However, cognitive development is crucial in the process of your child becoming an independent individual. Once again, guide them and don't fight them.
As part of their new-found identity, it's normal for adolescents to want to try new things and take risks. While this can be a positive attribute to teenagers, it can also result in careless and risky behaviour!
How to encourage positive cognitive development in teenagers
- Encourage your teenager to share their thoughts and ideas with you
- Praise your teenager for well-thought-out decisions and opinions
- Assist your teenager in planning and carrying out their goals
- Instead of rejecting your teenager's poorly made decisions, help them re-evaluate their thought process
- Encourage your teenager to engage in discussions about a wide variety of topics
- Encourage your teenager to develop their own identity and their own ideas
Tip: Assist your teen's cognitive development and brain health with BrainShine, our natural remedy for peak brain performance, concentration, focus, memory and study efforts!
Do you have a teenager? If you have any questions about their development, behaviour or health, please contact us or leave a comment below. We always love hearing from you!