Just when you got the parenting thing down, your child goes to sleep one night and wakes up an adolescent. Adolescence seems to happen overnight, bursting at the seems with emotions, drama, power struggles, and turmoil. A re-balancing act within the family structure to accommodate a budding adult can offer new parenting challenges.
How do you get through it?
First, develop an understanding that the developmental bridge between childhood and adulthood consisting of adolescence can be more painful and scary for your child than you. The destination of adulthood can be a vast land of unknown responsibilities accompanying that independence they are also pushing for.
Develop a plan and strategy to help guide you through adolescence with the optimal goal of serving your child’s independence, character, and confidence to smooth away the pressure from the outside world and gain peace within your home.
1. Foster a Solid Identity
Your child starts out incorporating their parents as equal parts of their identity. During adolescence differentiation begins where the individual begins the natural separation process from the parents and begins building their own identity. The differentiation process is critical to successful development, relationships, and adulthood. This can also be a wobbly time for your adolescent, as they work to fill up their identity tank.
As parents, this is your opportunity to foster a solid identity as your teen begins to form a separate, unique, and healthy identity. The more solid a teen’s identity, the greater their ability will be to push away peer pressure, handle challenging tasks, develop healthy coping skills, and keep a stable mood.
You can foster a solid identity by asking questions, and actively listening. Active Listening requires attention, leaning toward the person, and reflection. The intent is to listen and have the speaker feel heard and understood. Help your teen by engaging in conversations that solidify their identity and encouraging them to put into words their own personal experience and meaning in the world. A helpful hint: Pay great attention to the values and ideals you want to encourage and ask detailed questions. While your teen is forming their own unique identity, you can still guide them by your own congruency with family values and love.
2. Be a Fan
Be their greatest fan! Cheer on accomplishments, point out positive interactions and what your teen does well. Shift the focus from the turmoil of adolescence to the accomplishments and growth experiences of adolescence. The words, “I am proud of you,” can melt away tension, ground confidence and security, and just feels good to say and receive.
3. Set limits
Healthy boundaries are a must during adolescence and communicate care and concern. Helping your teen set goals with positive rewards will teach them self-initiative and pride. Consequences follow naturally in life when we don’t stay within the boundaries of the law, our employer, school, and relationships. Teach your teen with effective discipline by implementing appropriate consequences that are immediate, quick, and allows them to get back to life quickly. The goal remains to stay in a positive cycle with your teen, using failures and troubles as learning opportunities for personal growth.
For more tips on getting through adolescence don’t hesitate to utilize any resource available to help you and your child through the biggest transition in life. Just as quickly as childhood burst to adolescence, adulthood rounds the corner. Make the most out of your relationship with your teen by seeking support when needed.