Adolescents are at a critical stage in their development and are most likely to be affected by changes in their environment. Teens need to adjust to changes in high school and homework, and social media, and they also have to follow their parents’ plans, while going through puberty, as well as physical changes and emotional changes.
Adolescent Development Isn’t the Same as Child Development
Young adolescents experience a higher level of anxiety as they undergo a complete life change with puberty. Early adolescence is a critical step for a teen and their family member, who may experience mood swings and behavior changes from their teenager. Parenting a younger child has its challenges, but parenting adolescents is a whole new world, but keep in mind that it’s just as difficult for them as it is for you.
Young Adolescents May Feel That Their Emotional Health Isn’t Being Addressed
Think about it: How many times have you decided what hobby your child should have, or decided on your child’s vacation without considering what your child wanted? How often might you’ve judged the reason for your child’s behavior without carefully evaluating their emotional changes? How often might you have failed to properly assess your child’s stress level? Or perhaps they feel that you have been too absent, or too intrusive?
My Point Is That No Parent Is Perfect and Every Family Life Is Unique. It’s Easy to Miss Something.
If you have a negative feeling about your teenager who’s on the way to becoming a young adult, it may be wise not to blame everything on “adolescence and puberty,” which many parents do. Ask yourself some of these questions first, or better yet, if you can, ask your child. As the saying goes, sometimes the answers are right in front of your eyes.
Parenting isn’t about you being right and your child being wrong, it’s a collaborative effort where you both learn from each other and help each other grow.
However, if you feel that communication isn’t possible or would cause harm to your child’s mental health, or your own, I’d recommend that you speak with a professional who specializes in this area.
Parents Should Lead by Example
As a parent, it’s not all about you, but about the well-being of your child.
You should keep in mind that your ability to adapt will determine the way your child sees the world. Adolescents either become like you or choose the complete opposite, but don’t think that it will be your decision to make once your child will be a young adult.
I’ve seen some parents in my network who were sure everything was under control until they realized it wasn’t. When that happens, it’s much harder to recover from the feeling of not having understood that it’s to get the job done beforehand.
As they grow up, children observe their parents, their stress level and stress response, their behaviour, the way they handle their emotion and mood swings, and form their own judgments later in life. They learn from those around them how to react to people, situations, and other things.
If parents are unable to adapt to new situations, they’re unlikely to ask their parents for advice on how to adapt in the future.
Parents can help their children by modeling the right behavior so they can easily adapt to new situations.
They should be an example of adaptability to young adolescents. If they themselves have a hard time adapting to change, their children are unlikely to feel confident that their family members can really help them.
Parents can make the process easier by showing positivity in their own actions, words, and deeds.
A Good Start Is to Help Teens to See the Positive Impact of New Situations
In their role as caregivers and mentors, parents can provide knowledge that can ease the adjustment.
Teens can handle criticism better, for example, if they know it’s an opportunity for personal growth. Likewise, parents can teach them how to deal with mistakes, because part of being adaptable is learning from those mistakes and not making them again (or avoiding them altogether).
Giving your child a certain amount of trust and independence is also important so they learn to adapt more easily. Giving teens a certain amount of freedom when it comes to making decisions about their free time is also important.
Your teen may want to be at their friend’s place playing video games for the weekend in presence of other adults, while you’re planning to go visit another family member, for example. If you’re separated, he or she may want to spend more time with the other parent. Or he or she may want to have private time watching movies or reading. Your child may be your blood, but that doesn’t mean he has your mind or personality.
Parents Should Keep an Open Mind
Here are some ways parents can help their teens adapt to change:
- Explain the importance of adapting. Teens need to know why they need to adapt, not just be told.
- Talk about a change in casual conversations instead of making it a taboo subject.
- Ask questions about change and listen carefully to how your teen responds.
- Explain to your children that they’ll go through changes throughout their lives – for example, from teenage to adulthood – and that change is normal and expected.
- Know when to ask for help if you notice your child struggling with adjustment issues or worrying about changing environments or situations.
Parents Can Listen to Their Children and Value Their Thoughts and Ideas
As a parent, you’re in the perfect position to help your child develop coping skills. You can model for your child by dealing positively with change yourself and accepting that he or she’s no longer a young child, but a young person who’ll soon be an independent adult with an independent mind.
The Most Important Thing to Remember Is to Listen to Your Child
This means that you really listen without judging or criticizing. It’s not always easy to listen without judging or criticizing. Even when we don’t mean it, our facial expressions and body language can give us away and make it seem like we’re criticizing our children’s behavior or opinions (even if we don’t think they’re right). So remember: kids need adults who’ll listen to them without prejudice and let them know that their thoughts and feelings are important, even if they sometimes seem silly.
If your child is talking about something that upsets them or that they’re having a hard time with, you should listen to them first before giving advice or interfering to make them feel better (which might be tempting).
For example, if a friend is moving away from school, saying “Don’t worry, you’ll make new friends soon,” is not going to help. The way you could help is by simply listening without dictating how your child should feel about it. Let him or her figure it out!
If your child needs more support to deal with the stress of the changes at school, there are many other ways you can help him or her find solutions (especially if she already has ideas about what might work). If she has an idea about what might help her get through a difficult time at school (e.g., sitting next to someone else at lunch), ask her why she thinks that would work – or if there’s something else that might help as well. Don’t judge the solution just because it seems odd – your child may just be trying something out!
- Listening helps kids, teenagers, and adults. We all know that! But how many of us really practice active listening?
- Encourage teens to make their own adjustments. There’s nothing worse for a teenager than feeling like you still see him as a little kid.
- Encourage teens to learn to adapt. Like everything else, adapting is a learning process that you can’t force anyone to do. One of the best ways for teens to learn how to adapt to change is to learn from other people’s experiences, outside their everyday family life.
- Reading books, biographies, and speaking with other people of their choice about their experiences can help them develop their critical thinking and form objective opinions about what they think is right or wrong. For example, when it comes to choosing a career, don’t try to influence too much. Encourage them to choose their role model and learn from him.
- Allow them to make mistakes to develop their independence and sense of responsibility. By doing this, parents or adults involved with teens in your life (such as friends, relatives, co-workers) can understand them better because they know a little more about what they want than what the parents think they want.
- Encourage your child to make informed decisions – Encourage teens to make informed choices of activities, learning, and people. Teens are under pressure to reach a certain standard of perfection, but we all make mistakes. It’s important for parents to remind their children that it’s okay to make mistakes and that it can even be beneficial. We learn from the bad choices we make and can learn to make better decisions that help us grow as people.
- Teach them how to get help when they need it by reminding them that they’re not alone, and they can also count on others than you. Helping them find a support network like close friends or trusted relatives who may understand how to adapt better than you, will give your teen a sense of comfort and ease when they feel overwhelmed by change. I know it may sound harsh, but remember that it’s not about you having all the answers, but how you can help your child become successful and independent.
- Help them trade impulsive behavior for decisions based on research. By helping teens think before they act, parents can empower them to make informed decisions instead of just acting on a whim or impulse.
Adults Must Learn to Let Go
Letting go and building positive emotions is an important part of parenting.
For example, maybe you had trouble adjusting to a new job, you had several failed romantic relationships, or you lost a loved one. Whatever you’ve been through, it’s important to prioritize your child’s adolescent development. If you don’t let go, your child won’t learn to do that from you.
If it feels too hard and you feel like your stress level or a mental health condition may be holding you back, for example, remember that there are professionals who can help you deal with it. You don’t have to do it alone.
If parents want their children to be confident, it starts with confidence – allowing them to take risks and learn from mistakes. It’s about encouraging them to believe that their opinions and ideas are worth listening to (even if you disagree). And it’s about letting them make decisions and take responsibility for actions and consequences.
When young people feel supported by trusted adults, they can confidently figure out who they are and what makes them tick. This self-confidence can help young people learn to make informed decisions.
In Some Cases, It’s the Children Who Teach the Parents to Adapt
Just as we learn to adapt to the changes our children go through, sometimes it’s the children who teach us this skill.
Perhaps they teach us by leading by example themselves, showing us how much easier it is to be able to adapt.
Or they inspire us by their determination and innovative approach to change. And of course, there are moments when their adaptability reminds us of our own and we realize we can still learn from them.
There Are Many Ways You Can Learn From Your Children How to Adapt
Observe their behavior and learn from them too: For example, if your child seems to be doing very well with a new activity or situation at school, ask them what they do differently from others to help them adapt. You may be surprised!
Ask them questions: if you notice something unusual in your child’s behavior (e.g., sudden bursts of joy), ask yourself why they’re feeling that way right now, rather than judging their positive emotion. By asking ourselves these questions, we can see how adaptive behavior manifests even within ourselves.
It’s Never Too Late to Learn!
As adults, it’s our job to help adolescents adapt to change – we need to be able to adapt to new situations ourselves.
Whether you’re a parent, teacher, or youth worker, your ability to handle change can have a huge impact on those around you.
Sometimes adults forget that they too still have the ability to grow and develop, but the learning never stops! It doesn’t matter if you’re a teenager just starting school or if it’s your fourth decade of life: There’s always something new to learn – even if it’s just helping you better understand teenagers’ perspectives.
Another thing that can help adults adapt is connecting with other adults in similar situations. If you’re struggling with a problem like raising teens, talking to other parents about your thoughts and feelings can be very helpful. It gives you context for your own situation and lets you know that other people are also struggling with the same issues and feelings. Getting support from others during difficult times isn’t just important for teens – it’s important for everyone!