Understanding normal teen development is key to being the best parent you can be. Without this foundation, parents can go astray, lose perspective, and disrupt their connection to their teenagers.
Adolescents must figure out who they are. This is the largest developmental task to complete to successfully get them to adulthood. The only way to do this is to separate from their parents. This becomes trickier then usual if your teen is adopted as attachment issues muddy these waters.
To makes matters more complex, your teenager’s body and brain are growing and developing at astounding rates. These changes make all teens “angsty.” As you know, your teen can suddenly become moodier than ever, can spend all their time in their bedrooms, and can push back against you as their authority figures as they navigate the need to become independent.
Keep in mind, adolescence is the normal and necessary time to prepare to leave the nest. As parents, our job is to get our children ready for this major life change. Your teen must push away from you in order to go out on their own. They love you so much that they cannot imagine leaving you. Talk about confusing. If you, as their role model, remain calm and connected as your adolescent embarks on this journey of independence, it can make all the difference. Do not personalize their pushing away; It is a sign that you have done your job well!
Studies say that communication is the key to navigating all these changes alongside your adolescent while still remaining close. It is challenging work as one day your child can be super sweet and the next more remote than ever. Remember to stay as flexible as possible during these years. Try to be open to negotiating rules and boundaries. Remember they need to become more independent so that means rules need to change. Teaching and modeling real negotiation skills allows for healthy growth and development for your teen.
Discipline is key. Remember discipline means to teach or guide. It is not a punishment. Safety is paramount. After that try to stay attached to your child as you manage their increasing need for freedoms. Because your teen will make mistakes, and you want them to so they can learn, make sure you always let your teen know you are rejecting their behaviors, not them. And in giving a consequence to a behavior, make sure it matches and is a natural outgrown of such unwanted behaviors.
To learn more about adolescent development, parent-teen communication, and discipline, check out the books, podcasts, and other resources in the RESOURCES section of this newsletter.