The process of becoming an adult is not only a physical transformation, it’s an emotional transformation as well. Because of the magnitude of the metamorphosis, it makes sense that it is often tumultuous. Parents may face common problems in raising teenagers. Approach the process realistically with the goal of turning out a happy, well-adjusted adult into the world.
Once a child hits adolescence, communicating takes on new challenges. Teenagers are vying for independence, while at the same time forging a brand new self-concept, states Shannon L. Sachs, with the Ohio State University Extension. To facilitate effective and ongoing communication, you must help your teen feel comfortable enough to confide in you. This means removing judgment from the equation and providing solid support and nurturing guidance for your teen. Give your teen the latitude to express herself as she needs to, with honesty and openness. Listen with full ears and an open mind to enable you to hear exactly what your teen tells you.
Teenagers are moving toward independence and adulthood, with their actions and behaviors designed to accomplish this goal. A parent’s job is to support and assist as necessary to help a teen learn and grow safely. If a teen receives too much independence before she is ready to handle the responsibility, problems with safety and excessive risk-taking may ensue. Gradual independence as the teenager gets older and more mature is often the best course of action, states Iowa State University Extension.
Trust is a two-way street with teenagers. Parents must strive to remain open and nonjudgmental about issues that teenagers confide, asserts Ohio State University. It’s important for a teen to feel comfortable and secure about talking to parents or the teenager may not share feelings and troubles. Parents can ensure that they remain on the inside track with teenagers by striving to listen effectively with an empathetic response. Parents must also be able to trust that a teenager will follow house rules, keep commitments, and conduct himself responsibly and respectfully. If either parents or a teen breach trust, it’s imperative that the rebuilding process begin immediately to repair the damage.
A teenager naturally participates in risk-taking behaviors as she defines her self-concept and seeks to gain new experiences. Positive risk-taking behaviors might include sports, class politics, volunteering and learning new skills, states Lynn E. Ponton, M.D., author of “The Romance of Risk: Why Teenagers Do the Things They Do.” Sometimes teens who have unresolved anger may opt for negative risk-taking instead. Negative risk-taking includes drug use, alcohol, unsafe sex, gang activity, eating disorders, self-mutilation and reckless driving.
As you monitor and observe your teenager, the KidsHealth website provides warning signs that may indicate that a teenager needs professional intervention. Warning signs include extreme weight change, sleep issues, drastic personality shift, change in friends, falling grades, skipping school, talking about suicide (even joking), indication of tobacco, drug or alcohol use and trouble with the law. Any of these warning signs should alert you to have your teen assessed by a health professional.