Your child becomes a teenager and parenting can suddenly turn into a frustrating experience. You are understanding your child from a different viewpoint in the circle of life. You could observe:
- That the harmony is gone in your relationship.
- You find yourself in disagreement with your child.
- You feel the so-called generation gap grew.
Yes, your child is changing, but the basic temperament is still there. Understanding your teen is still the key to having a harmonious relationship. These ten tips for understanding your teen and dealing with the new brain wiring will help you stay centered as a heartwise® parent.
While you used to pal around with your child when he or she was younger, you now have to set boundaries between your role as a parent or a friend.
1.Help stabilize the changes.
At this stage, you are primarily the circumspect parent who will listen, negotiate boundaries and behaviors, and stand steadfast in your expectations. Doing so helps stabilize all the changes the adolescent experiences. Friends can be found, but good parenting is a rare commodity these days.
2. Become Involved
Understanding your child as a teen means becoming involved while your schedule and life remain just as busy. Being involved is finding the time to be with them. Being involved means knowing where they are at all times and establishing communication protocols.
Even more important are the conversations about life your teen appreciates. These conversations open opportunities to understanding your child, as their thoughts and feelings change each day, disappear, and flare again: Listen to the what your child tells you about their life events. You will glean their thoughts and feelings so that they will be at ease coming to you if they are in trouble.
3. Train Teens in Accountability Skills
You as the parent, are responsible for preparing your child for adult life for as long as they live under your roof.
If they want something, exert the effort to achieve it or get it.
Being responsible for communication, earned expenses, and tasks is now their domain.
Money is not the important asset. Rather, qualities about handling money are what matters.
As a parent, you can help here by providing their allowance for completed jobs, but they must do their part. You are training them to survive in a competitive world.
4. Listen To Them
The teen years are crucial years for understanding your child. Teens expect you to hear them and decipher what they need or want. You may feel like judgments arise surrounding teen activities, finances, and studies. Don’t worry because 99% of the job is listening to them and understanding what they want.
5. Explain Your Viewpoint
By letting teens know the reasons for any decisions you make, you empower them to make their choices. Offering them a reason, even if it considered lame by your teen, helps them review their personal choices. For example
Concern for their safety is why you establish a mutually agreed on curfew.
Your need to know where they are if they leave one place for a new destination requires a phone call to know they are safe and capable of holding their own among peers.
6. Tune In
Understanding your child occurs when you are
listening to their kind of music
keeping tabs on what activities they are involved in
Knowing the names of their friends
7. Be Flexible
Setting agreed-upon rules with your teen is always healthy. However, exceptions to rules always occur. Whether you are flexible enough to bend the rules requires discussion with your teen. Lay the groundwork for those instances when rules can be adjusted.
8. Share Your Interest With Your Child
Sharing interests with your child means you better understand them You learn together and share your experiences. You need to stay connected with your child through those teen arguments.
9. Keep Talking Even If Your Teen Is Not Listening
Teenagers do listen to their parents. While they may argue with you, your advice is well-entrenched in their minds. After all, you did raise them. Although they pretend passivity with what you say, the truth is that your advice has influence.
Understanding your child is the most important topic that you could learn as a parent. This knowledge helps you to become active in guiding and nurturing your children as they grow and mature. Why? Your child has unique personality traits that remain consistent throughout life.
One way you can understand your child is by observing them as they sleep, eat, or play. Look for the consistent traits such as
- shyness versus being outgoing
- focused versus distracted
- cheerful versus stressed
- playful versus observant
- fussy versus more accepting
- Which activities do they like best?
- How do they negotiate change?
- Do they adapt easily to new situations?
- Do they need time to explore new environments or activities?
These average characteristics of a child demonstrate particular interests, choices, and behaviors according to his or her inborn temperament. This is the key to understanding your child.
Create space and time in your busy day to talk, but also listen, to your kids as this is crucial to gaining information about how they think and what they understand. In the case of young children, they require less verbal language and more facial expression and body language to understand their thoughts and feelings. Asking them questions will allow them to share their feelings and identify emotional patterns.
For example, ask them what they built with their blocks today rather than asking them what they did in school. What game did they play with a friend? Learn how they used their imagination to create and enjoy. What was their favorite part of the day?
Another way of understanding your child is by looking at their environment to learn about certain behaviors that you have observed. Special people play crucial roles in your child’s life–family members, grandparents, child care providers, friends, and teachers. Of course, the home environment is the primary influence and can play a crucial role in your child’s behavior. For example, does your child show aggressiveness towards other kids at school? Find out all the triggers for their aggressive behavior.
Possibilities include their association with another child who is aggressive as well. The environment at home is another possible source for such conduct. Have there been conflicts and arguments at home lately? What about in the community? These are some angles to consider when trying to find the reason behind your child’s aggressive behavior.
Also, you can learn about your child by observing other children belonging to the similar age group. You can check out books, browse the Internet and take an online class or two. Watching your child grow up may bring back your memories of going through the same growth stages. However, through each stage, the speed of development is a personal thing.
By understanding your child’s development, you will be able to provide them with learning opportunities to support their development and prepare them for the next growth stage. At the same time, you as a parent would be able to set expectations and limits that are acceptable to your child.
Being a conscious Heartwise® parent is hard especially in this day and age when demands of work, financial commitments, and family tug on every parent. Quality time is hard to get when you are trying to juggle your time between corporate life and parenthood. Understanding your child’s temperament and traits are effective ways of becoming successful in the art of parenting.
When coaches or consultants are working with parents or a family, take time with parents to establish a good fit between the parent’s temperament and the child’s temperament.
What Is Creating a Good Fit?
The term “goodness of fit, or used here as the good fit, refers to parents meeting the needs of a child by parenting according to the temperament of each child. The goodness of fit between a child’s temperament and your parenting temperament style is essential for healthy social and emotional development for both you and your child. Also, you want to meet your personal needs as a parent in daily living from sleeping well at night to scheduling date nights.
How To Create A Good Fit?
The Nine Traits Inventory is helpful in determining reaction patterns in children and typically is used from infancy through the first to fifth grade. For example, two-year-old Lucy was very shy. Each month when Mom’s book group came for an evening, Lucy’s mom thought she was helping by pushing Lucy forward or holding Lucy while mom’s friends hugged her hello. Lucy, however, appeared frightened and pulled back.
Being with and observing your child, you start to note how he or she responds to people, environments, stress, food, etc. You’ll be observant of how you react. Are you reactive? Or are you proactive?
Your goal is to become an active parent by recognizing feelings and watching behaviors. The more you observe your child’s traits, the more prepared you’re a master at managing and supporting temperaments. You are watching your child adapt, and then you adjust to varied environments and situations as you go along. Lucy’s mom took the hint when a book club member mentioned that because Lucy seemed overly shy, why not let her hang out at the book club meeting for several weeks without pushing her into anyone or anything. Instead, the friend suggested that Lucy explores and find her level of comfort in her way. These moms would watch how she did it and learned what comforted Lucy. That advice was excellent for Lucy’s mom to allow temperament expressions to evolve into a good fit for the situation.
What Does Adapting the Environment Mean?
Here are examples of how different parents handled changing the environment to meet the needs of a child.
Marilynn got upset when something new was happening the next day or an activity would be different. Her mom started talking about the exciting new event one week before it would happen. She’d mention in normal conversation each night, and the night before the event was the most critical. Marilynn asked, “Is it tomorrow?” Mom responded wth yes, which made Marilynn cry more. Marilynn would speak of being scared and not liking new things she didn’t know about. Mom adapted the environment by talking about the event with her daughter. She left an additional hour for Marilynn to get ready for bed, cry, read a book, and talk some more before turning off the light. On the following mornings, Marilynn did all right and held herself together. Somehow, her living through the fear before the event seemed to make her happier to be there.
Do you see how common sense the adaptations can be?
What questions do you have about a good fit between parents and children?
“Teenagers are known for their angst and moodiness. You really can’t blame them with all that’s going on in their lives from physical changes and peer pressure to academic expectations and the formation of relationships.” Tyler Jacobison (Twitter | Linkedin
Feeling moody and grouchy once in a while is normal. Trouble begins when these feelings become more intense, persisting for weeks, months or even longer. Teen depression is an uncomfortable reality in our society and it’s up to parents to support and help their affected teens.
Situational vs. Clinical Depression
You can help your child by first identifying the difference between situational and clinical depression, their causes and treatment methods.
Situational depression (also known as adjustment disorder) occurs in the aftermath of monumental or traumatic changes in an individual’s life. In teens, situational depression can be triggered by parents’ divorce, a breakup from a romantic relationship, death of a loved one, academic struggles or even moving to a new area. Keep in mind that situational depression is temporary and things should go back to normal once the stressors are removed or your teen learns to cope with them.
In the meantime though, their symptoms are very real and are similar to those of chronic depression. They include:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, worthlessness or hopelessness.
- Changes in sleeping patterns –either difficulties in falling asleep or oversleeping.
- Changes in eating patterns, loss of appetite and weight changes.
- Loss of interest in hobbies, studies and life in general.
- Persistent lethargy and fatigue.
- Difficulties concentrating, making decisions or remembering tasks.
- Self-harming or suicide attempts.
Clinical depression, on the other hand, is more severe and is thought to be caused by a complex mix of brain chemical imbalances, genetic factors and social situations. It causes major long-term depressive symptoms that are pervasive enough to interfere with your teen’s daily life.
Different Treatment Approaches
The treatment your teen requires depends on the type of depression they have.
Managing Situational Depression
● Urge your teen to continue pursuing their hobbies and other leisure activities.
● Also, encourage them to eat a nutritionally well-balanced diet and get regular exercise to stimulate the production of dopamine to boost their mood.
● Joining a support group or talking out the situation with close friends and relatives can also help.
● If all else fails, seek the help of a trained psychotherapist.
Managing Clinical Depression
● Psychotherapy is a crucial part of helping your teen deal with clinical depression. Get feedback on their progress to ensure that the therapist you engage is the right fit.
● Appropriate medication in tandem with therapy will provide the best outcome for your teen. The medication might be for short or long-term use depending on the diagnosis.
● Hospitalization in a psychiatric facility might also be necessary especially if your teen is self-harming, suicidal or showing signs of delusion or psychosis.
With proper coaching, parents can learn responsive parenting skills that will help them discern behavioral issues that may predispose their teens to depression as well as learn how to assist their children to get over rough patches in their lives.
GUEST AUTHOR: Tyler Jacobson is a proud father, husband, writer and outreach specialist with experience helping parents and organizations that help troubled teen boys. Tyler has focused on helping through honest advice and humor on: modern day parenting, struggles in school, the impact of social media, addiction, mental disorders, and issues facing teenagers now. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn