I have been asked if I will blog about the teen years. Oh yes! I will blog about every aspect of parenting from sleep deprivation to adult children living in the family home. It will all be covered here because parenting is so complex.
The teen years, in particular though, have a very unique set of challenges. When doing studies about the teen brain, it has been determined that the frontal lobe is not fully developed into approximately the mid twenties or even later. This is the part of the brain that manages impulse control, judgement, insight and emotional control. Wow, there is a really good reason why these years can be so difficult!
So how do parents survive this time period in their child’s life? How do parents of teens stay close and connected to their child? I can say a huge factor is communication. Let’s face it, effective communication is at the core of every successful relationship. I talk about the concept of the family meeting in my Positive Discipline classes. Every person in a family needs to feel heard and it is up to the parents to provide a forum for family communication. I will write an entire blog entry about the family meeting because it is a critical component to building a strong family foundation. For now though, I will just point out that providing that forum is key.
Here is another extremely important factor in successful relationships between teens and their parents; parental reactions. When a parent “freaks out” or loses their cool when a teen shares information, the teen shuts down. I am extremely close to my children and I can tell you that all three of them have shared information with me that was not easy to hear. I stayed calm, heard them out and offered reasonable solutions. When they saw that I was really there for them for support, the door was open for me to reflect with them about their choices and actually do the important job of teaching.
I always tell parents you are allowed to freak out inside of your head! But when it comes to communicating with your child, it is so important for them to know that there isn’t anything they couldn’t tell you.
Share yourself as well. Our children only know us as adults and their parents. I have talked in great length to my children about my own teen years and challenges. It has allowed them to see me with a different set of glasses on. I really do wear many hats, but sharing my experiences has let them see me as Kim, the human being. It has enriched our relationship so much, especially as they matured into adults.
Most importantly, setting limits with teens is absolutely critical. Children, teens and yes, even adults want and need boundaries and structure. Do you have a consistent limit setting structure within your home? I am a huge believer in the process that I teach in my Positive Discipline workshop. It works…guaranteed. It just takes time to learn how to create that structure and consistently follow through. I believe behavior needs to be taught from within, not from a fear of punishment. Keep in mind that there is a big difference between punishment and consequences.
As you can see, I have A LOT to say about the teen years! I promise I will go into more depth in future blogs but for now, think about these things. Make a decision to change the way you interact with your teen.
I am always available for private consultations. I meet with people in person and I also offer phone consults as well. Get the support you need to create a relationship with your teen that is deep and rewarding for life!