Helping Our Kids Transition to Teenhood
Help your child successfully navigate from tween to teen.
Parenting teenagers is often viewed as a harrowing, nail-biting experience to be endured and conquered, before safely launching them into the world as young adults. However, even as you feel anxious about the changes your child goes through in their tween to teen years, it’s important to look at the situation through the lens of your teenager.
Remember, they will be feeling equally (if not more!) worried and uncertain than you. Dealing with hormonal changes, strong emotions, peer pressure, social expectations, life choices and perhaps even romantic relationships for the first time, is certainly a daunting proposition for your child. With preparation and a positive mindset, you can guide them as they make the transition from childhood to young adulthood.
As your child moves from childhood to tweenhood to teenhood, be aware that the only constant is change itself! A child at this stage of development will undergo physical and emotional changes as he explores his own identity and finds his place in the world. Your patience and understanding is invaluable at this juncture.
The teen years require parents to shift gears slightly by taking on a bigger role as a friend and counselor to their children. By offering a listening ear, you signal to that they are valued and their opinions and thoughts matter to you. Your teenager is more likely to be upfront about life challenges and discuss potentially awkward conversation topics with you, such as sex and relationships.
Perhaps the most exasperating part of the tween to teen transition is seeing your child turn into a contrary creature. Remind yourself that your teenager is simply figuring out his or her likes and dislikes. In doing so, they may sometimes push back against your preferences.
Despite your best efforts, you will not always be immediately available to help your child navigate every difficult situation. Equipping your child early on to make smart decisions will help them when they find themselves stuck in these instances.
In the childhood years, decision-making is usually left to the parents, often with little involvement from their children. Sadly, this is a missed opportunity for most parents. Make it a point to engage your child from as young as possible, and talk them through each decision – big and small.
Begin by asking your child to state the situation or problem. Then, consider the possible responses, followed by the final decision on the route to take. By consistently applying this method over time, your child will become more adept at handling decision-making.
Adversity and struggle is just as common for teenagers as it is in adulthood. Equipping your child with the emotional tools to handle disappointment is important. Regular practice ultimately builds their resilience to deal with the bigger challenges that life will bring.
Encourage your child to pick up a hobby or pursue an interest outside of their usual school work. Activities such as journaling, reading, drawing, or even playing a musical instrument, can provide a crucial outlet. And they can help alleviate stress in the teen years.
Help your child identify a core group of friends who are loyal, supportive and level-headed. Also find one or two trusted adult mentors that your child can turn to if they need a mature opinion, but are uncomfortable approaching you directly for advice. These ‘cheerleaders’ will form your child’s support team, helping them through the tough times and celebrating the joyous ones.
Even as your child gradually adjusts from tween to teen, remember that you too are growing into your new role as a parent of this unique teenager. Do be gentle on yourself as you experiment with new ways to connect with your newly minted teenager.
Above all, spend lots of quality time together as a fail-proof method to truly bond with one another, open up channels of communication and create treasured memories that will last well beyond the teenage years!
We hope you find the information in this article useful!