Living with Young People

Living with Young People

– it can help for parents to remember the following:
1) adolescents are going through rapid physical & emotional changes
2) adolescents want freedom, but still need the security of their family
3) adolescents often feel unsure of themselves behind their “grown up” attitude

– it is normal for young people to:
1) seem self-centred & demanding
2) have lots of up & downs

– it is also normal for parents to feel:
1) worn down & frustrated at times
2) to feel as if you have lost your influence
3) to believe that the adolescent has rejected your values
4) to fear for their safety

It can help parents to try the following:
1) be patient
2) really listen
3) adapt to their changing needs
4) help the adolescent learn from mistakes
5) remind yourself that this is a time of change for the whole family

The teenage brain:
– pruning & re-wiring of neural networks is occurring & will continue to do so until approximately the age of 25
– as a result, emotions may seem dominant as the logical part of the brain continues to develop
– such emotions may include anger/irritability & mood lability;
– stubbornness may also be observed
– as a result, impulsiveness & lack of control & poor judgment may be observed
– risk-taking, both negative & positive in form may also be observed

Sleep may also be delayed as the young person tries to stay up late at night (& get up later in the morning as a consequence)
– this can occur because melatonin (the hormone responsible for promoting sleep is released later at night in the adolescent, developing brain)
– good sleep habits are therefore essential

What parents can do includes:
1) talk to the young person about the changes going on in their brain
2) be a good role model
3) provide structure & routine around things such as school/college & family
4) set fair & reasonable limits
5) help them think about risks & consequences as they try out new things
6) help them find new & creative ways to express their feelings (for e.g. Music, art, writing, sports, exercise)

Other things parents can do:
A. Consider spending time together – when the teenager is not with their friends:
1) eat together – share & discuss things from the day
2) drive them where they need to go – adolescents can often talk more freely when not looking directly at you
3) take them to places they like to go – but not where their friends to (to avoid social awkwardness)
4) ask their advice about something
5) encourage them to get involved with the broader family – this promotes a sense of belonging (despite the adolescent complaints initially)
6) expect them to share the chores (while balancing this with their social & academic needs)
[good relations start from birth: it is never to late to reset when & where needed]
B. Be interested / show interest:
1) listen to their music; watch their TV /internet shows – & discuss
2) watch their sport or other activities – be supportive
3) get to know their friends – encourage them to bring friends home; show interest;
4) tell the adolescent things about you when you were young – share a laugh about some of your own mistakes; talk about how things have changed; talk about your work, your own interests & friends
5) let your teenager teach you new things – what they are learning
C. Show your love
1) tell the adolescent you love them
2) give the adolescent a hug when appropriate
3) buy their favourite food /something they like to show you are thinking of them
4) go out of your way to help them – projects, picking them up if plans change
D. Respect their privacy – it’s part of them working out their own values & sense of self:
1) give them some space of their own
2) ask before entering their room
3) do not go through their diaries, their drawers, their bag etc.,
4) don’t pry for information except for when it is about their safety – ask where they are going; who they will be with; when they plan to be home

Good Communication is Key during Adolescence – ask yourself these questions:
– What is the message my young person is getting from me right now?
– How would I react if someone spoke to me this way?
1) be a good listener
– Being mindful of always giving advice / Judging
– Young people need opportunities to bounce ideas off others and/or test their views to work out what they really think
– Try to hear the meaning, not just the words
– Put yourself in their shoes – how would you feel?
– Allow for silences without jumping in
– Listen rather than trying to fix
– If they do not want to talk, do not pressure them – Let them know you are there any time they need you
2) be an approachable parent
– Remember it is easy to hear good news
– When the teen approaches with bad news, try to stay cool and not react
3) solve problems together
– Decide together what the problem is
– Brainstorm possible solutions
– Choose one idea and try it out
– Work out what you will do if things do not go to plan
– If it did not work out go back and try again (something new)
[Note how this teaches young people to problem solve for themselves]
4) be mindful of praise & criticism
– Praise to constructive criticism ratio – 5 to 1 minimum
– Watch comparisons
– Watch for frequent comments about mistakes or failings [This creates resentment and defensiveness]
5) watch nagging
– When young people feel nagged, conflict often can occur
– Often because they feel they are not trusted or that you are trying to control them
– Avoid nagging by asking yourself: Will this really help the situation? What harm is done if I let it go?
– Avoid arguing over small things so you can stand firm on the big issues
6) manage anger
– Many children grow up thinking it is not okay to be angry
– However feeling anger is normal
– Help the young person express anger without hurting themselves or others
– Modelling this behaviour by the parent also helps
– Anger results in response to another feeling such as: Feeling hurt, scared, frustrated
– Try to find out what caused the anger
– When calm talk about the situation
Good Conflict Management Skills are Important during Adolescence
– When dealing with conflict – look for the cause before you react- listen to what they say
– When dealing with conflict – Keep your feelings in check and try to not react to negative comments
– When dealing with conflict – Focus on the current issues – do not bring up old matters
– When dealing with conflict – Admit when you’re wrong without fuss or excuse – this sets a good example and shows that you do not see yourself as perfect
1) discipline – setting limits
– Young people learn about self control from their parents and other adults around them
– When parents set fair and reasonable limits it teaches the young person how to set limits for themselves
– Work out limits together
– Be clear about family rules
– This way when things go wrong, it is easier to say “we agreed on this”
– Work out limits and consequences when things are calm rather than in the middle of a crisis
– Gradually remove limits as young people become more responsible – this helps build their skills and confidence
2) Internet & Mobile Phone usage
– These devices are central to the lives of many young people (Connection with others, learning, having fun)
– Discuss safety
– Make agreements about safe and reasonable use (Time limits; Financial limits on how much is spent; Use away from home; Ways you can keep an eye on their usage
3) be consistent when rules are broken
– Be loving, firm and consistent
– Avoid long lectures
– If you lose your cool, they will certainly lose theirs
– Give them chances to learn from mistakes
– Follow through on consequences, even when resisted by the young person
4) watch for power struggles
– If you find yourself in a power struggle, think about whether control may have become your goal instead of helping the young person learn to be more responsible
– Give up trying to win conversations
– Instead advise why certain things are important to you or the family – Being honest, treating each other with respect, caring for each other by sharing chores

Step Parents
– discuss how you will be involved in the teenager’s life, in particular around setting limits & discipline (these latter things may best be left to the parent)
– it is worth remembering that children/teenagers can: a) resent step-parents being in the family home; b) resent being told what to do by the step-parent; c) may feel themselves to be less important in the family given the presence of the step-parent & therefore feel “pushed out” or feel they should have “divided loyalties” for the separated parent
– therefore let the adolescent adjust & deal with their feelings
– do your best to be patient & understanding
– continue to be a good role model by being patient & friendly towards them – hang in there!

Taking Care of Yourself
– helps you
– provides role-modelling to the adolescent

Source: ParentLink | ACT

#teenagers #adolescents #marktaylorpsychologiat #canberrapsychologist


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