There are two main teenage stages which start at different ages depending on the individual child. For simplicity I call these young teens and older teens.
As your child reaches his teens, being a parent becomes a whole different ball game. So many changes are taking place. One minute your 11, 12 or 13 year old is a warm and affectionate child. The next minute he is moody, bad-tempered and refusing to talk to you. This can be a very confusing time as a parent and requires the maximum amount of patience and tolerance. Remember, if it is confusing for you, how much more confused your young teenager probably is.
He may feel that his life is
turning upside down. He still feels like a child in lots of ways. Yet
the world is demanding that he grows up. It is scary to grow up and
lots of children in their early teens are facing challenges that they
don’t always feel ready for. Alongside these feelings, there are:
- physical changes happening in their bodies
- mood changes caused by the influx of hormones
- expectations from others that they are ready for more responsibility
- feeling that no one really understands them
- crushes and infatuations
Even as adults, we would find all of that difficult to cope with.
Yet young teenagers are expected to cope with all of this, get on with their education and behave
in a sensible and normal way.
Things can get easier as teenagers reach the later part of their teens. Although, this obviously depends on the person. Girls especially can become very grown up from about 15 onwards. Boys tend to be about 17, 18 or older before they start behaving more as you would expect an adult to behave.
This more grown up attitude can bring its own difficulties. Teenagers start wanting a lot more freedom at this age. Although it may be earlier, this is the time when dating, sex, staying out late, alcohol, and sometimes, drugs may begin to play a large part in your teenager’s life.
How to cope with teenage stages
I wish I could say there is a straightforward and easy way to cope with the teenage years. A thick skin and a large amount of tolerance and patience are your best survival tools. Also, a willingness to be there for your teenager, even when they are being obnoxious, even when they don't want to talk to you, even when their behaviour is really getting to you!
In spite of their silence and moodiness, your teenager does still love you but it's really not cool to show it. And, even though there will be times when you feel hurt and angry because of your teenager's attitude towards you and life in general, it will really help you to remember how much you love them. They will grow out of it and become reasonable adults eventually!
In the meantime, there is help in the form of a wonderful book called
Speak Teenager. It's written by Ben Shapiro, the father of a 16 and 18 year old. This book shows you how to communicate with your teenager on their terms, so that they feel understood and willing to listen to what you have to say. I think you'll find that it can really help you to deal with the teenage stages. It certainly helped me with my teens.