The teenage years are some of the most confusing, difficult phases parents will experience with their children. Trying to navigate fluctuating moods can feel like you are on a roller coaster, leaving you utterly confused. Now let’s add the uncharted territory of your child finding his or her independence. These years can leave parents feeling out of control. Should we take an easygoing approach and let them figure it out? Should we become more authoritarian in attempt to gain our control back? The answer is balance and consistency.
Here are some strategies that can ease this transition while salvaging your relationship through these trying years.
Listen to understand, not to respond, and TRY to avoid advice giving
Most teens believe his or her parents do not understand what they are going through. Simply listening in attempt to empathize will allow your teen to feel safe within your relationship. Meet them where they are. For example, if your son or daughter is upset about failing a test, it might be our initial reaction to question the reason for the F. Fight the urge, and listen to understand the emotion. They could be experiencing shame, guilt, fear, anger or a variety of other emotions. Your teen’s crisis this week, will subside, and they will remember how you responded. Gather information on his or her emotions surrounding the circumstance rather than jumping to solutions.
Consistent limits and boundaries
As much as teens will push the limits you have set as parents, stability and consistency is what they need in an uncertain world. If they can count on anything, it is your expectations as a parent. Remember, expectations mean you believe in them living up to a higher standard. Low or no expectations can lead to low self-worth and anxiety. Unrealistic expectations can do the same, in addition to creating a power-struggle between you and your child. By keeping the expectations consistent, clear, and obtainable, you are providing a stable support system at home.
As adults, we are constantly implementing rules with children. The reason for these limits might seem obvious, but naturally teenagers tend to push back. Exploring your family values and incorporating those into the reasoning for rules will help create buy-in for your teen. It also takes away the common rationale that “you are just being mean.” Now they have the resources to engage in value-based behavior when you are not there to implement the rules.
Teenage years are full of insecurities, but our children are full of resources and are extremely resilient. Explore your teenager’s strengths and highlight those in daily encounters. They are becoming adults and will find this approach invaluable in their upcoming years of finding independence. The teen years can be rocky, but every struggle leads to growth. Listening in a non-critical way goes a long way, and keeps the door open for communication in the upcoming years. Balance and consistency with communication style, boundaries, and positive support are the first steps in easing these transitional teenage years.
If you need help, give us a call at 720-583-9332!
Written by Kristin Tribbitt, LCSW, BCN
Dr. Steffanie Stecker a licensed psychologist and the owner and clinical director of Mountain Vista Psychology, PLLC.
In addition, she is a board certified neurotherapist (BCN E5669) and board certified in QEEG (QEEG-D). Less than 100 people world wide are board certified in QEEG, which indicates competency in reading QEEGs and choosing neurofeedback protocols. Dr. Stecker is passionate about brain based effective therapy and creating a safe relationship for her clients to create change. She loves what she gets to do each day!