For those of you who feel you are constantly ‘battling’ with your teenager this blog post is for you. The frontal lobes, which are responsible for controlling impulses, reasoning, and emotions are the last to be rewired for adulthood. During this rapid growth phase decisions are re-routed via the amygdala, a primal part of our brain which reacts in a ‘fight or flight’ mode to any perceived threat. Hence why teens can appear to take on a slightly Jekyll and Hyde persona. Our teens are at their most vulnerable during this stage and need our unconditional love and support more than ever. Here are three ways you can navigate the teen years more harmoniously:
1. Actively listen
This means not passing any judgements, offering any advice, or criticising. This is much harder said than done! You might feel as though your teen never listens to you but they do, so being careful of any sweeping generalisations when we are angry will also help them maintain a healthy self-esteem.
2. Negotiate choices wherever possible
Your teen is trying to find their feet as an independent adult but they also need our advice and guidance, as long as it doesn’t take on a ‘lecture’ tone. So, if you feel your teen spends too much time on their technology explain to them how it makes you feel, your concerns, and then ask them how you can come to an agreement. Approaching the problem this way ensure no-one loses face, and your teen feels heard.
3. Schedule regular one to one time
Your teen might act as though they don’t want to spend any time with you, but they need one to one time more than ever. Whether it’s walking the dog, cooking a meal, chatting over a hot drink, you teen needs to feel you are available at a time when they are most at risk from issues such as depression, cyber-addiction, eating disorders and self-harm.
Having an understanding and an acceptance of where your teen is in their development should help you exercise more tolerance of their behaviour. They are acting on impulse, immediate gratification and the here and now.