There isn’t a generation that doesn’t think that their kids aren’t growing up too fast. Before your child becomes a teen there is dread and anticipation of how your life with your child will change. Even though your kids give you signs of what the future might hold, it’s hard to heed their signals because it’s rather alien compared to your relationship with your kids up until this point.
Between the ages of 10 to 16 years your child feels ‘in-between’; in other words they are no longer totally dependent on their parents, but still need their parents for basic freedoms like driving. Kids are biologically immature, socially & psychologically inept in some situations. So basically they are part child and part adult.
In order to understand these transition here are ’4′ basic principles to help parents cope with their ever-changing child.
The 1st basic principle is to understand how your child’s ever-changing BODIES are affecting them. Most teens or pre-teens don’t like what they see when they look in the mirror at this age. Your teen’s body will change more during this period than any other time in their lives except the first year of life. And keep in mind, in the first year parents celebrate changes in a child’s body (like walking, growing hair, etc.), but in the teen years either parents cannot see the changes because the teen hides them or the parent doesn’t like the changes, like hair dyeing or wearing clothes that show off their ever changing body. The child is well aware of their changes and doesn’t know what to do about them. So both parent and child are conflicted about these changes in a child’s body. Parents, help your child by understanding that this change is difficult, even though it’s a necessary part of growing up.
The 2nd principle is to understand that your kids crave BELONGING. They need to know what their peers think about them and they need to practice how they will act in a group setting. This is the purpose of their peer group. As parents the tendency is to look at a peer group as unwanted pressure for our children. But, in a lot of ways their peers help kids relieve their pressures. In a peer group kids can tell secrets to learn who they can trust, they can tell jokes to see if their friends think they’re funny and they can safely complain about their parents. So get your kids into a healthy peer group so they learn where they fit socially.
The 3rd principle is knowing that your teen has to figure out what they will BECOME. So now is the time to expose your child to all sorts of different experiences so they can learn what they like, what they are good at and what jobs are out there that reflect their hopes and dreams for the future. If your kids choose something you’re not into, give them a chance to see if it fits their character and dreams.
That brings me to the 4th principle and that is BREAKING AWAY from you their parent. It is painful for parents and children, but it’s a necessary and healthy break. Being on their own is how children learn to trust themselves even when you are not around. This basic trust is the foundation for growing into healthy young adults who knows how to depend upon themselves. And that feels so good to a child, boosting their confidence in their own unique abilities.
It is easier said than done, I know because I have been through it with my own two kids, but you have to let your kids find out about their Bodies, how to Belong, what they will Become and tell them you trust them to Break Away.
As always I welcome your comments, Dr. Ann