Guide to parenting adolescents
Many websites and books focus on parenting babies, since that's when most parents feel the most confused and want to do some research. However, one of the most important times in a child's life is the teenage years, and parenting teens can be just as confusing as parenting a brand-new baby. Hormones and mood swings can make this time of your child's life an extremely frustrating one, so staying calm and focusing on your goal – which is to guide your child – can make this period less stressful.
Puberty is the time in a person's life when they change from being a child into an adult. This time in a teen's life can be wrought with embarrassment and feelings they don't understand. To help your child, start by remembering your own teenage years. What did you find most frustrating and want the most help with? Many teens feel like their parents don't listen to their concerns and frustrations. Like parenting a toddler, parenting a teen requires a lot of patience and understanding. Don't shrug your child's feelings off. They need a lot of attention, even when they think they don't!
Precocious puberty – puberty that develops earlier than usual – can happen to any teen. Help them by providing simple, high-level information about what's happening to them, and answer questions as best you can. You may want to speak to your doctor about male puberty or female puberty to help you broach the subject.
Keep an eye on your child for any problems that may arise. Eating disorders and adolescents tend to go hand-in-hand, but speaking to your child about his or her self-esteem and feelings on this can help prevent it from becoming a dangerous habit. Depression in adolescents often manifests quite severely in the teenage years. Keep an eye out for teens who withdraw or seem sad all the time. Mood swings are common; depression, being antisocial and exhibiting dangerous behaviors such as self-harming are not.
Parenting troubled teens sometimes means that you'll need help. This help can come from parenting resources, which includes books, magazines and websites to start, but can also include seeing a counselor or psychologist. Remember, you have not failed as a parent if your teen requires more help than you can give them. Good parents realize when they need help, and they obtain it for their child.
The teenage years can be troublesome, but they can also be very rewarding for you and your child's relationship. Stay patient and do your research and you should be able to navigate this time in your child's life successfully.