How to navigate the teenage years

Petulance, hostility and perplexing behaviour seem to be the most usual signs of psychological tension in adolescents and teens. If a deleterious parent or offspring is left unprocessed, inner tension in teens can cause long term, deeply ingrained emotional problems.

How can the two parties navigate this transitional teen phase positively and end up with sanity and relationships intact?

The brain is still developing

In years gone by, in a simpler age people historically people became adults at 21 years of age. Recent important work by Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore in the field of adolescent neurology suggests there may have been some real logic to this, in that the brain is only fully developed, in most of us by around the age of 21.

Teenagers go through incredible neurological changes and are really working hard to work out who they are and how they fit in; it’s incredibly confusing and often upsetting for them, but they need to go through this independently. To do it by themselves, but with support.

The Social Self 

If 'Self' is very important to teenagers… 'Social Self' is huge.

What's he doing? Who's he doing it with? What music is she listening to? What clothes are they wearing? What phone have they got? Who are they blocking on Facebook? Are they all having sex? Do I look good / bad / fat / thin / tarty / fit / sexy? Am I clever or stupid? Will anyone ever fall in love with me? And so on, and so on.

There’s more and I’m afraid it gets worse…

A word about hormones

I must mention hormones. On top of the neurological changes most teenagers also have surging hormones that do have an influence upon mood swings and behaviour.

The hormonal and neurological developments are separate; although if you've ever tried to reason with a distraught and apparently irrational teenage daughter or son it might be hard to detect the dividing line.

The steadying down element does arrive eventually, but often by that time a lot of parent child relationships have degenerated.

In my opinion, today’s teenagers have far greater pressures to deal with than their predecessors had when they negotiated this important child to adult developmental stage of their lives.

What about the parents?

Many loving and well-intended parents unintentionally fail their children during these teenage years.

The lack of appropriate parental support for an adolescent going through this self-learning process can nurture life long psychological tension issues for the teenager and possible disharmony in the relationship between parent and offspring. Parents don't need to just let it happen; parents can help their children.

I have helped and witnessed young people, parents and family groups traverse this difficult, and yet crucial period of their lives. This assistance is not just about control or easing frayed tempers... it's more to do with creating a healthier platform for the young person to gain a personal, autonomous and contented balance in adult life.

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