Having a baby is such a joyful event. We think about the cuteness, the laughs, and the snuggles. We do not think about what that cuteness will become for a few hormonal years- the teen years (and perhaps a couple of years before that). Teenagers seem to lose control over their emotions. They may seem to become angrier, more disrespectful, and need more sleep, just to name a few. Parenting a teen can be a challenge.
The change in behavior is attributable to many factors but hormonal changes, especially the rise in testosterone, are particularly influential. Testosterone is important in helping your teen to mature into adulthood and it affects girls as well as boys. Other hormones are also working hard to get your teen into adulthood. These include androgens (which help regulate hair growth, bones, and the male reproductive system) and the “sex steroids,” hormones that stimulate the development of more adult characteristics.
Along with the physiological and biological changes occurring in a teen, there are also behavioral, emotional, and social changes. Teens become more interested in sexuality and sharing those feelings with others. They feel more pressure academically and feel self-conscious around others. Both these factors increase the fear of judgment and the need to please others.
All of these changes affect the brain. The frontal cortex (the part of the brain that controls reasoning) is still changing, so teenagers may not consider consequences before acting. A teenager will fail to think before speaking aggressively to parents, acting on impulse, being more aggressive, or even getting into fights.
These changes are not a reason to ignore unacceptable behavior. Children still need (and want) a parent to teach them right from wrong even when their behavior may be due to uncontrollable changes in the body. Disciplining your child shows that you care about them. It teaches them how to treat others, and themselves and it keeps them accountable for their actions so that later they can remember that certain actions are not acceptable. Discipline alone isn’t enough though. These years can be very frustrating, and emotionally and mentally draining for a parent. A parent can feel hopeless but there are ways to help the years go by a bit smoother.
As a parent, you can also be a friend. Be available for your child when they are willing to speak. This may not always be at the most convenient time, but let your child know that you are very interested in hearing what they have to say and set a time to talk. This is a great way to let your child know that you will make time for them and want to listen. This will make your child understand that their thoughts and words do matter to you. It also teaches them that we can’t always have conversations with people when it is convenient for them because others have things on their plate as well.
Make sure that you encourage your child to maintain the standards you expect of them but also don’t make them too overburdening. So, this means expecting them to follow the rules and hold them accountable. Ensure they are maintaining their hygiene. This is important for many reasons, but with fear of judgment especially from peers, a smelly or not-so-clean teen can create some gossip. That’s the last thing a teenager needs, especially at school.
Stay calm while parenting a teen
When your kids are acting out, it is normal to want to act out with them in defense. It’s only natural to want to react when someone makes you feel upset for trying to help. Try to remain calm knowing this is part of parenting. It is a difficult time and requires patience but also, don’t beat yourself up too much if you did overreact to how your teen is acting out. It’s normal and so necessary to let out your frustrations but perhaps this can be done, next time with someone other than your child. This is where therapy is really helpful.
Therapy can help
Yes, family members and friends can be very supportive, but they are also protective of your feelings. A therapist is unbiased and can help you see things from a different perspective. Finding the right therapist is important to make sure your needs are being met. If parenting is causing you anxiety and frustration and perhaps you are looking for new ways to work through situations? Peaceful Way Psychology has a therapist that can help you. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation or to book an appointment.
Parenting is not easy but remember, the teenage years are temporary and there is always support for you when you need it most.