‘Teenage’ is a real thing that we all (parents and children) have to deal with. So much change takes place during this time of development. Change, not only to the teenager’s mind and body but also to the overall balance of family life.
Children heading towards adulthood, naturally begin to push family boundaries, they want to be treated as adults but do not yet have the skills, or intuition to be adult in their communication, and this can lead to misunderstanding and frustration on both sides. Parenting can be difficult, especially during the teenage years when the digital world dominates.
Teenagers have so many distractions and online influences that affect their behaviour, often beyond a parent’s control.
Most of the traditional techniques that our parents would have used are no longer effective; a clip around the ear is now deemed as unacceptable and telling kids to do something because “I said so,” fuels retaliation and resentment. Through feedback, it has become apparent that parents want new skills to enhance family communication and foster positive relationships for all.
Many parents find themselves asking “am I in my teenager’s life or just in her space?” Mobile technology interrupts everything we try to do. The constant ‘ping’ calling for our teen’s attention is a real issue causing arguments in many households. What teenagers don’t realise is that every time they respond to that call they are reinforcing the wiring of this pathway in their brain, producing a new, strong habit which is very difficult to break.
Did you know, that our teenage children think we don’t understand them; that we want to separate them from their friends; and that we have changed? Of course, we know that they are the ones who have changed, not deliberately but organically. They are meant to go through this change, it is natural. Unfortunately most of us don’t like change, we resist it and this brings its own problems.
Did you know, it takes only 7 seconds to see which way a conversation will go: solution or combustion? So you have less than 7 seconds to choose how you will respond and this is the secret to success.
Did you know that teenagers are wired to exhaust us until we give in? They expect us to say ‘no’ to everything and they love an argument, even if it is positive about them, eg: “You are so talented.” “No, I’m not.” “Yes you are!” “I am not!”
Do you yell and tell or ask and allow? To eliminate shouting and disagreement in our family, we introduced the idea of a monthly family meeting (on a Sunday afternoon for 45 minutes or less). Each member of the family is allowed an opportunity to put forward their ideas, what they need help with and what they are willing to contribute to. We write our weekly activities on a communal calendar and often finish by playing a board game or reading from a joke book. We introduced this when our children were 5 and 6 years old.
It’s not forever… You’ve heard it said that a child doesn’t understand the breadth nor depth of a parent’s love until they have children of their own. So until then, remember to laugh, have fun and enjoy the beautiful child that is now your teenager.
Do you have any other tips to share? Please comment below.
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