Teenage Angst: Helping Your Child Navigate a New Normal

The period between childhood and the teenage years is a delicate and difficult time for both parent and child. Your child will experience a lot of changes and confusing new emotions that may make their disposition sour.

They may fight with you, but they are experiencing big emotions they do not know how to navigate. The best thing you can do is listen to them and provide them with structure. Routines and discipline will help your child feel anchored in an unsettling new world.

Ensure that you provide plenty of self-care opportunities for both you and your child. Increase the nutritional value of the meals to help them grow and add more exercise to your family’s daily routines. Consult professionals such as a pediatric dentist and a family counselor to make sure that you are ensuring both your child’s physical health and emotional welfare.

Establish Clear Boundaries

Your tween may push back against your rules, but they need discipline more than ever during these years. Establish boundaries for them as well as for yourself and any other children in the house. Try to be understanding and sensitive to their discomfort but do not let them get away with flaunting the rules of the house.

They will try to break curfew or be mean to their siblings and fight back when you punish them; but, they need to see that the boundaries will not sway due to their bad behavior. Be consistent in enforcing the rules, and your tween should settle down after some rebellion.

Respect Their Choices

An adolescent goes through so many changes both mentally and physically during these years. They will have very little control over their emotions and the way they grow. This will give them insecurities, which you must address by giving them choices and respecting their right to choose.

Let them be vocal in the household, allow them to make their own chore schedule, and ask their recommendation for what to make for dinner. Giving them easy choices, which they can then see you respecting, will help them feel a sense of control over their world, which they sorely need.

Validate Their Angst

Your child is about to bounce quite unnervingly between their normal childhood positivity and new teenage depressive episodes. Be prepared to handle these mood swings and always validate that what they feel is real and matters to you.   The last thing you want is to give your child an impression that their mood swings make them burdensome. Your child will be extra sensitive to parental approval at this time. Sitting with them through the sad moments will help to ground them, so they can learn how to bring themselves out of it.

They Are Not You

Watching your child go through this difficult transition may bring back some long-forgotten memories from your own adolescent years. Even if you recognize certain behaviors that your child has as something you also experienced, try to keep a clear distinction between yourself and your child.

Otherwise, you may become overly cautious with your child and drive them down the exact path you want them to avoid. Evaluate your feelings at the end of each day and ensure that you are not internalizing their anxieties. You must remain strong and consistent to help your child avoid your mistakes, help them out of their mistakes, and give them a proper foundation to grow.

Do Not Fix Everything

Your child needs to fail and feel hurt. This is very hard for parents to accept as any parent would give their life for their child. But, a strong character forms on the back of harsh truths and painful lessons.

You must allow your child to make mistakes and then learn from them. Guide them through the processes of fixing the situation without taking over. This will teach them accountability and responsibility. Allowing them to learn from their mistakes is a better way to ensure they avoid future errors than to solve everything for them. A teenager who does not learn from their mistakes is a future adult who will make the same adolescent mistakes.

Most of all, be kind to yourself. You are experiencing second teenage angst as well. It may not be your own, but it can hurt because it is your child who is suffering. There is no shame in getting therapy for your child to ensure that they make this transition smoothly.

You must celebrate the good moments as well. These will be made all the sweeter for the emotionally fraught moments that will come and go. Set aside time to spend with your child to learn about the teenager they are becoming. Show them your willingness to take an interest in their new hobbies and indulge in their new musical tastes. This will help you keep your child close and help both of you grow separately but in the same loving direction.

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