A Peek Inside Your Teen’s Brain (QUARAN-TEEN Part 2) In the first article of this series, we nervously leaned over to take a closer look at that most mysterious and confounding of objects: the teen brain. If you have a teen, see for yourself.
In this article, also based on the same book by Dr J. Clark (entitled “Your Teenager Is Not Crazy”), let’s now take a look at three specific things we parents can do to make this season of life a little smoother (and saner) for everyone.
1. BE ON-SITE
As we uncovered in the previous article, teens’ brains are undergoing a massive reconstruction. Like any big remodeling project, it’s really good to have some calm, experienced grown-ups on-site. And that’s the strange paradox of this season: while it’s true that your teen needs to grow independent and will probably push you away at times, there’s another part of them that really needs you to stick around and be near for when a newly revamped part of them comes crashing down. Part of being on-site means being consistent and courageously present. Don’t disconnect and then launch in demanding change.
Be observant while on-site too… this means paying attention to your teen’s words, thoughts, interests, and fears. Try to do more listening than lecturing. In the words of the author: “Do everything you can to keep from inserting your ideas, opinions, or suggestions. Trust that there will be time for that later. If communication is going well, ask follow-up questions to draw out your teen’s thoughts and feelings. Finally, show respect for what your teen says by reiterating it, confirming you’ve heard and understand. Keep the conversation short and to the point; this is an especially effective communication tool with teens.”
2. DON’T MINIMISE, EMPATHISE
If your daughter is crying in the bathroom because she’s got a big zit on her forehead, please rethink the dismissive, “Get over it, everyone gets zits.” Your teen’s big issues are genuinely very big to them. So try to respond with affirming statements like, “I can see why that would be hard for you.”
The fastest way to grow the understanding gap is to try to convince teenagers that feelings don’t matter, that they should get past something, or that you’ve got the perfect way to fix the situation. Ironically, is as we parents see their pain and don’t try to solve it, that they feel really seen and understood.
3. IT’S OK TO GRIEVE
As our children became teenagers, most of us parents feel under-prepared to deal with their own conflicting emotions. We knew they’d have mood swings, but we didn’t know we’d face such a sense of loss! Watching our kids transform during their adolescent years might be wonderful at times, but we also miss the snuggly kids they were seemingly moments ago. And that’s okay, in fact, it’s totally normal. Grieving the loss of your little boy or girl is an essential part of parenting adolescents.
If this rings true for you, the author suggests taking some time to talk with a spouse or friend, or even to journal on your own. Perhaps you need to acknowledge, grieve and then let go of the loss of closeness, or the loss of feeling needed. As our teens grow, there’s a natural loss of control over them and a loss of ease and simpler days. Maybe you feel like you’ve lost some of your confidence, and find yourself asking, “Why did he do that?” or “What is she becoming? Have I done something wrong?” You may feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s okay too!
That’s it from us, folks. While both you and your teen find your feet in this topsy-turvy season, may you also find one another.
Chat soon MUMS x
Written by: Julie Williams – Lifestyle Editor
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