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Navigating Adolescence

Adolescence is as much a time of transition for parents as it is for the adolescents in the family.

Over a period of time, the child who used to love going on trips with you and spending time together may want nothing to do with you and you may feel very disconnected from your teenager as a result.

Your teenager is going through huge physical, emotional and developmental changes at this time of their life. It is important to remember that separating out from parents is a vital developmental stage of adolescence.

Opinions and values you used to share with your child are a distant memory as your teenager may express very opposing views to you all of a sudden as a way of feeling separate to you.

Allowing your teen to express his/her individuality is important at this time.

You may rush to taking everything your teen says personally but remember that they need to go through a phase of saying black when you say white!

And it is an important time to choose your battles!

It may seem like everything you do is wrong in your teenager’s eyes and you may feel like giving up on making an effort to maintain a relationship with someone who can be very hostile towards you or make you out to be ridiculous!

Sometimes it can be effective to tell your teenager how much you miss their company and how you have fond memories of the things you used to do together.

You can suggest that you do something small together every week and leave it to your teenager to pick what the activity could be- watch a film together, go to a match, go out for coffee etc.

When it comes to boundaries and rules in the teenage years, remember you are dealing with a young person on the verge of becoming an adult.

Laying down the law will not work well and will create more hostility and anger.

Compromise is the word for this stage of parenting.

Allow your teen to gain your trust and tell them you expect them to follow through with their word if , for example, you have agreed together that 10.30pm is the time to be home on weekend nights.

Many household arguments today are to do with setting limits on access to technology.

Ideally starting in childhood, set a reasonable time limit for being online in any one sitting and set a nightly, agreed-upon cut-off time so that young people have time to wind down for sleep.

Leaving mobiles downstairs at a particular time at night is helpful as we all see how teens can stay up too late on their phones otherwise. The reward hormone 'hit' they get from being on their phones is designed to be addictive.

If phone boundaries are not currently in place, talk with your children/teens and explain why these boundaries are important for their health and well-being (getting adequate sleep so they can concentrate at school and feel calmer after a nights sleep, learning to relax without using their phone etc) and come to a mutual agreement. Sometimes these conversations are easier when you're driving in the car and there is less focus on your teen to respond.

Remember that compromise is key.


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