Your teen is in a battle!
It’s a battle raging within and they have difficulty finding the words to describe it to you.
The battle is this: their need for independence from you and their need for connectedness with you.
On one hand, they want to break free from us, be their own person and discover their unique place in society. The problem is that their brains are not fully equipped to do this! The Pre-frontal cortex (the CEO, thinking, problem solving, empathy, and braking system of the brain) is not fully developed until around the age of 25 years old. Many teens will try to break free by testing the limits and engaging in risky behavior.
On the flip side, they have the need to belong and be connected to us and others. Our teens want to fit in. They want to be seen, heard and accepted. They desire to belong to something bigger than themselves; a community.
Is your home a place where they are seen, heard and accepted? A home where they can safely think out loud without fear of yelling, criticism or control? If not, they will seek to find that connection somewhere else.
How do we join forces with our teen’s brain development instead of fighting against it?
CONNECT INSTEAD OF CONTROLLING:
Maintain the idea of connecting with your teen instead of controlling them. When we connect with them, we listen and value their unique ideas and positions, while maintaining boundaries and high standards.
BECOME A STUDENT OF YOUR TEEN:
Get curious about their passions and what makes them tick. Ask questions when they want to pursue something risky. What do they hope the outcome will be? This helps them to engage their prefrontal cortex (higher thinking center) and switch out of emotional reactions and decisions.
LISTEN TO UNDERSTAND & ENGAGE:
Get excited about this time of growth and consider it a normal part of developing. Tell them that you believe in them as you engage with their ideas. We want them to understand that we are for them and not against them.
RECOGNIZE THAT THEY ARE DIFFERENT THAN YOU:
Remember that they are trying to be unique, which means they may not think and do things the way we would like. Embrace their uniqueness, while maintaining safe boundaries and high standard for them. It's a delicate dance. Don’t take their unique ideas as personal attacks on your beliefs.
THEY NEED TO LEARN HOW TO APPLY THE INFORMATION AT THEIR FINGERTIPS:
Our teens are bombarded with information from the internet, what they are lacking is the wisdom to apply it. This is where you come in, engaging their minds to discover the outcomes you desire.
LECTURES DO NOT HELP LEARNING:
Lectures don't work. Give them up! About one sentence into the lecture, their eyes glaze over and they stop listening! No one likes to be told, but we all like to be included in the conversation. We need to change the way we interact, so they develop wisdom and become problem solvers on their own.
GET INVOLVED IN A COMMUNITY OF PARENTS WHO ARE CHALLENGED WITH THE SAME ISSUES. Join ParentTeensClub!
Doreen Steenland is an ICF certified life coach with Living Full Life Coaching, registered nurse, married, Mom of three college aged kids, and developer of the Parenting with Intention-Capturing Their Hearts Workshop for Parents of Teens and Tweens a six week Zoom group coaching workshop.