“Mom, just leave me ALONE!” “Dad you just don’t understand what it is like to be me.” These are phrases that many parents of teens may have heard once or twice. At times, it can seem like you have gone back in time and are dealing with a toddler again. In many ways, you are.
Teens are exploring and trying to figure out who they are, what they can do, and asserting their independence, just like toddlers. It can feel like you just cannot live with your teen anymore! Does it help to understand that your teen’s brain is not fully developed? Your teen’s interactions with you can either help or hinder those higher-level brain connections responsible for logical thinking, decision making, and self-control. What can parents do help with this?
To answer this question, first, reflect on your teen years and remember what you needed then. Did you need someone dictating orders or pointing out all the ways you were screwing up? Or did you simply need someone to listen to you? Listen to their ideas and help them think through those ideas and ultimately make the best decision for them. Teens need to feel that they are not alone in the world as they change and develop. They may act like they do not need their parents, but the reality is they still need you more than ever!
The magic for you and your teen to survive and thrive those years that are known as “storm and stress” is all in the relationship. It begins with actively listening to your teen. Listen to their thoughts and ideas. Help them think through the consequences of their decisions instead of giving them the answer or dictating what is and what is not going to happen. This will help build the part of the brain that controls sound decision making. Next, try giving your teen choices that you and your teen can live with. For instance, if your teen wants to get a job. The choices could be when they consistently are maintaining passing grades then they can get a job. This helps to give them some sense of control, which they want. They just need practice using it. Finally, negotiate with your teen on things that are negotiable for your family. For instance, negotiating how many days a week your teen will work when he/she gets a job. They want to work 5 days, but you think that is too many days. So, through negotiating and hearing the needs of each other you agree on 3 days a week. Negotiation is a skill that we all need, especially now with the amount of time parents are spending with their child(ren) and/or teen(s).
So, go and spend some time with your teen just as you did when they were toddlers. Both of you giving your full attention to the conversation. Involve your teen in decisions that impact them through choices and negotiations. This will help both of you grow and succeed through these crazy turbulent teen years.
For more discussion about how to survive the teen years through effective communication, join us on September 30 from 7-8 pm or on October 21 from 10-11am. For more information about this class please call us at 504.896.9591 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to learn more about The Parenting Center at Children's Hospital New Orleans.
Monet Somerville, MS
Monet received her Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology from North Carolina Wesleyan College. She then went on to receive her Master’s in Science in Psychology with a Concentration in Child and Adolescent Development from Capella University. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Developmental Psychology with a Concentration in Child and Adolescent Development. Monet is also a licensed Trust Based Relational Intervention Practitioner.
Prior to working to The Parenting Center, Monet worked as a Case Manager in a residential facility for adolescent girls who were in foster care but were unable to be placed in a foster home. She also taught foster parents about child development and the impacts that positive parenting can make on a child.