The teenage years, also known as adolescence from the Latin adolescere meaning ‘to grow up’ is a transitional stage of physical and mental human development generally occurring between puberty and adulthood.
Parents often express difficulty in how they speak or communicate with their teenagers. When teenager’s say ‘I hate you’, what they are really saying is that ‘I am angry with you’ and it is usually something they may have created.
I think we all may remember the days when we seemed to lack confidence and certainty. It is important to remember not to confuse arrogance or insolence with confidence. On the one hand, teenagers are trying to assert themselves, while on the other hand, not actually recognising what their sense of responsibility is as they try and find their place in the world. This can be very frustrating for parents.
A healthy level of parental acceptance is a powerful tonic for poor self-esteem and can strengthen the bond between teenagers and their parents. Whereas a high level of criticism, and low levels of approval and warmth from parents, can be a sign of lack of acceptance.
As difficult or challenging as it may be, it is so much better for us as parents to find ways to appreciate your teenager’s uniqueness, and give up the struggle to change him or her. Remember that accepting is not the same as excusing or condoning bad behaviour.
Being accepting goes hand in hand with setting limits. Not forgetting the fact that we have been raising our children with a healthy set of values and guidelines, which one way or another, can eventually become part of their make-up.
Here are some tips on how to be accepting:
- Avoid criticising your teenager.
- Find the positives in your teenager and value your differences.
- Show that you value, respect and believe in your teenager as often as you can.
- Communicate your approval and encouragement when your teenager makes good choices.
- Show you understand your teenager’s point of view, even when you don’t agree.
- Don’t try to manage every aspect of your teenager’s life. Give your teenager as much responsibility as he or she can safely manage.
- Accept your teenager’s choices in the areas of responsibility that you have handed over to them.
- Intervene only when your teenager’s behaviour involves high levels of risk or has an unacceptable impact on you or others. This may mean working together to solve a problem or setting clear limits.
Some issues faced by teenagers include:
- Peer pressure, and what will they do to ‘fit in’.
- Parental conflict/parental separation
- Sibling rivalry
- Thoughts of suicide
- Teenage pregnancy
- Body image e.g. eating disorders, weight struggles
- Sex, safety and health issues, promiscuity
- Drugs and alcohol and the exposure and usage of them
- Acne and the affect it can have on self-esteem, self-image and confidence
- Schooling and jobs. I’m not sure what I want to do.
Tips for Teenagers:
- Write a note to your parents if they will not listen, or if you have trouble verbalising your request.
- Once a day ask your parents if you can help them with anything. They will appreciate the offer and will view you as a cooperative person and in return they will probably be more cooperative with you.
- By following the household rules, there is a good chance that you will be given some important concessions.
Be patient with your parents, they are learning as well.