Navigating the Teen Years: How to Support Your Teenager Through Change
teen years

Navigating the Teen Years: How to Support Your Teenager Through Change

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The teen years are a time of significant change for the brain. Hormones play a big role in these changes and can often result in mood swings and erratic behavior. Parents can support their teens through these changes by being understanding and providing a stable home environment. Parents need to remember that their teens are still learning and making mistakes and not take things too personally. There are resources available to help parents navigate the teen years, such as books, websites, and support groups.

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teen years
Navigating the Teen Years: How to Support Your Teenager Through Change 2

Navigating the Teen Years

If you’re a parent of a teen, you know that these years can be both challenging and rewarding. While it’s essential to provide support and stability for your teen, it’s also important to remember that they are going through many changes and need space to figure things out. Teens begin to have issues with body image and lack self-confidence, and we must help teens navigate these adolescent years as their biggest advocate and support. Learning how to communicate best with your tween or teenager is critical.

 Please understand they may not want to share feelings or hear your expert knowledge. That doesn’t mean parents shouldn’t keep asking their kids what’s happening or encouraging them. It just takes a little more finesse during these years. Here are some of the changes your teen is going through:

  • hormones and brain changes in teens
  • body image and self-confidence issues
  • the need for space and independence
  • changing relationship with parents

Parents need to have realistic expectations for the teen years. Just because kids seem suddenly grown-up doesn’t mean they are ready to handle everything independently. Be available when they need you, but give them the space to grow. These years can be challenging, but working together can help your teen navigate through them successfully.

Brain and Hormonal Changes In the Teen Years

Your teen is going through so many changes that this time can be a scary time for them. Not only do they experience hormonal changes, but they are also dealing with new emotions. While a child’s life is about listening to their parents to stay safe and protected, in middle school, young people are beginning to push boundaries and desire more independence.

As puberty starts, many kids don’t want to talk about the changes they are facing as teenagers; however, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk to your kids. From oily hair to spontaneous erections, these changes can be embarrassing to deal with, and it’s a normal part of growing up. Parents need to find a way to gently talk to their children without pushing them away and by showing emotional support.

One way parents can gently talk about embarrassing issues is to say, “Hey, this happened to me, and I don’t want it to happen to you… here’s some new shampoo to help deal with the excess oil. Or, here’s a new deodorant. Or, here’s how I (or your dad) dealt with spontaneous erections while in class.” Let’s be honest, it’s even “cringey” to write about it. But, it’s normal, and this is a significant change in your child.

Talking to your child will help and encourage them to have control in their teen years.

Body Image and Self-Confidence

A young person has their own emotions when it comes to self-image. They most likely are struggling or have big feelings and don’t feel confident. It can be challenging for parents to see their children go through this.

It is said that when a person goes through puberty, they have a “second brain,” called the limbic system, that starts to develop. This area of the brain is responsible for hormones, mood, and emotions. As your teen’s hormones change, so does their mood and how they feel about themselves. It’s important to remember that these feelings are temporary, and they can get through them with some support.

There are things you as a parent can do to help your child feel better about themselves:

  • Encourage them to find activities they enjoy and are good at
  • Help them develop a healthy lifestyle
  • Make sure they are surrounding themselves with positive people
  • Encourage them to express their feelings
  • Talk to them about the changes they are going through

It’s also crucial for parents to take care of themselves during this time. It can be difficult to see your child struggling and not be able to do anything about it. Taking care of yourself will help you be in a better place to support your child. Resources are available to help parents, such as books, websites, and support groups. Many parents have connected with a support group or family coach for this exact reason.

Teens Need Space and Independence

When a child asks their parent to stop treating them like a baby, it’s a sign they are going through normal adolescent development. They are asserting their independence and want to be treated like an adult. Parents need to remember that their teen is still learning and making mistakes. They need your support, but they also need space to grow. Giving them a little freedom will help them feel more in control of their lives and make better decisions.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should let them do whatever they want. You should still set rules and boundaries but be flexible when enforcing them. For example, if your teen wants to go to a party with friends, you can talk to them about what time they need to be home and what behavior is expected.

Changing Relationships with Parents and Your “New” Child’s Life

Parenting teenagers is not for the faint of heart. While they are forming new friendships, adults in your child’s life are not seen in the same way. It can feel like you are being replaced by your child’s friends.

It is important to remember that these changes are normal and that your relationship with your child is still important. They still need your support, even if they don’t always show it. Try to connect with them in new ways, such as talking about their day or going on a family outing.

It’s important to remember that every teen is different and will go through these changes at their own pace. Some may struggle more than others, but eventually, they will all get through it. The best thing parents can do is be there for their teens, provide a stable home environment, and offer support when needed.

Additionally, it’s helpful to seek out resources like books, websites, or support. While we all usually seek out our family doctor for help and advice during our teen years, mental health issues are on the rise, and if you sense any warning signs, please just look your child in the eye, spend time with them, ask them about school and social status as well as their challenges. Listen without judgment and with compassion.

Check out these other stories from Middle School Life Coach, Erin Hansen for more tips and parenting strategies:

Coping With Stress and Frustration as a Parent: Strategies for Staying Sane
How to Connect With Your Middle Schooler: Tips for Parents

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