Adolescence is an exciting phase of life but it can be filled with many challenges so I thought it could be useful to share some parenting advice for teenagers. During adolescence our bodies undergo rapid change as they begin to see the world in new ways.
As a secondary school teacher I see the joys and difficulties faced during adolescence every day. Having taught for many years now, I have seen the changing impact of society and the new hurdles that teenagers now need to overcome that were never faced by previous generations. Here are my insights.
The challenges of going through adolescence
“Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.” Lewis Carrol
For a lot of reasons the period of being a teenager is one of conflict between children and their parents and many adults have come to the conclusion of a negative perception of the teenage years. It worries parents to know that soon, their young child will become a stranger, one whose actions they do not recognise, one that demands a level of privacy they cannot give, one that could become rebellious and not responsive to parental authority.
Understanding the transition is probably the most useful tool in teenage upbringing. Adolescence doesn’t begin at the same age in every child, some arrive late and others are early bloomers. The visible signs and physical changes, which include development of secondary sexual characteristics, are evidence that puberty has begun. The changes however, psychological and emotional, demand for independence and dramatic behaviour are the true indications of adolescence.
The behaviour and attitude of a teenager can be tied to how they are treated and brought up during this period. Many parents find that their son or daughter appears addicted to their computer or device. With teenagers spending hours every day on YouTube, social media and gaming, parents often feel compelled to put time restrictions in place, which can be met with resentment.
To parents, it is possible even in this dispensation to raise a wonderful teenager, who has a good sense of judgment, is responsible, considerate and obedient, maybe not all the time but most of it.
The principal goal of the teenage years is to attain independence and this happens by them drifting apart from their parents and refusing control. Parents on the other hand see this as them being secretive or at odds with them. It is important that parents treat this period with serious concern and educate themselves on how to find their way through these years.
These changes are very much associated with the natural hormonal changes teenagers undergo. It takes hold of their bodies and minds and also their behaviour as behavioural changes are not uncommon during this period. Generally, hormones are responsible for the physical changes that you see and the emotions and moodiness that may present, it also makes teenagers more susceptible to peer influence and the way society perceives them. The overall consequence is the tendency to engage in risky activities.
Teenage hormones as you would expect causes them to drift towards friends of the opposite sex they are attracted to. You notice them belonging to small groups of friends from the same background and possibly having all sorts of weird dealings. It is important that parents guide them, not keep them in the dark, let them know about dating and what it entails, teach them about things they may find completely weird.
Being a parent and a source of support
No matter how much they try, you as a parent should know better and be able to ignore the fact that they may refuse to do as you asked, tell lies, insult you slyly, be reluctant, scream and slam doors. If you keep struggling with them to change, you will most likely lose. The truth is they have changed and you should too in your dealings with them. Give them space, be open to the changes they go through, be compassionate, be their friend more like a mentor, listen to them and be there to always give them the moral leadership they need.
The importance of education in raising a teenager
Development of the mind and character is tied to proper education in young people. Education is one of the major factors that influence a teenager’s development. A teenager that knows this tends to be more interested in securing a good future for himself. Self-efficacy, independence and a great deal of responsibility is inculcated into teenagers that are properly educated in schools and tertiary institutions.
It is important that teenagers develop their critical thinking skills during this time so that they can learn to make good judgements, think independently and evaluate ideas and evidence effectively.
During adolescence it is also vital that teenagers are given the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them. They may find this hard. Some students take getting a bad grade at school badly. Others may make mistakes in their friendships or when socializing. However, learning from mistakes will make them stronger. It will help them develop their growth mindset, which will lead them to success.
A good home raises a good kid
It is important that families spend time with their teenage children, pay them visits when they are away, let them know that they aren’t alone in the world. At least 90% of the time, children who are brought up in families that stick together and have wonderful times together, grow up to be loving and reliable. Family is the backbone of child growth and development.
Friendship and social skills
During adolescence teenagers are navigating a period of change in how they view and partake in society. They are understanding a new role that involves increased independence and they sometimes struggle to take on the added responsibility that comes with this new territory.
Sometimes teenagers, particularly girls, can become shy during this time. For more advice on supporting teenage girls on improving their confidence, click here.
In other cases, in seeking friendships teenagers can be guided by what they see as exciting, risky and dangerous during a period in which many teenagers are seeking thrill and adventure as they learn about their new opportunities and place in the world.
It is important not to smother your son or daughter with over-protection from the dangers you envisage from some friends you may not agree with. You need to allow your son or daughter the independence that they need so they can learn how the world works themselves, otherwise you will drive them away with resentment. They will appreciate your guidance and wisdom to help them make the right friendship choices and decisions in social settings, but try not to overwhelm them.
Teenagers are amazing
Teenagers are amazing,
I wish the world would see,
just how beautiful we are,
how compassionate we can be.
I wish they could take back,
all the cynical things they’ve said,
and see how much we shine,
be positive instead.
Remark on our radiant smiles,
and the differences we make,
all of the people our lives touch,
all of the chances that we take.
Notice how we change,
each and every day,
wanting to leave childhood,
yet desperately wanting to stay.
I wish they could remember,
how tough our lives can be,
the promises that are broken,
the violence that we see.
Yet still we venture onward,
unsure of where the road may lead,
hoping they will take notice,
hoping they’ll take heed,
of the changes that we’ve made,
of the power that we hold,
of the wisdom we have hidden,
of the stories yet untold.
I hope the world will notice,
what some have already seen,
teenagers are amazing people,
striving to follow their dreams.
Written by Jamie Haskins
The period of adolescence is generally an exciting yet emotional time. It is vital that teenagers feel supported and loved, but it is equally important that they don’t feel smothered, and can therefore feel empowered and free. Finding this balance is tricky as a parent.
You will know this all too well as you sit at home waiting for your son or daughter to come home at night when they are already an hour late. However, remember that we’ve all been there. Many of us look back on our teenage years and think of all the excitement and fun we had.
Remember to let them have the same opportunities. Let them make mistakes so they can learn. Embrace the freedom, be there for support and love, and let your teenager fly in the world.
If you have any thoughts or comments it would be awesome if you could leave them in the comment box below and I’ll give you a reply 🙂