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By Abbey Zabielo (UWS Psychology Student)

Parenting teenagers can be challenging and stressful. Between the changes of hormones and social dynamics, it can be hard for parents to keep up. Developmentally, the teen years are a time where teenagers are learning who they are, what they want to do and who they want to be. They’re transitioning from childhood to adulthood while trying to build their own sense of identity. This can be quite overwhelming.

Globally, 1 in 7 (10-19 year old’s) experience a type of mental disorder (WHO). These disorders can have a detrimental impact on a teenagers daily life and overall wellbeing which may affect relationships, self-esteem, physical health and academic performance. While depression and anxiety are most commonly diagnosed mental illnesses, teens can also suffer from eating disorders, personality disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, trauma, PTSD and substance-abuse disorders.

With common changes of social dynamics, teenagers can feel a lot of internal and external pressure. Teens are not only more exposed to bullying, but social media is more apparent, showing a number of unrealistic expectations. In this age, teens usually seek self-fulfilment through things such as likes, posts and comments. They can also get caught up in self comparison,  where they’re constantly assessing their self-identity, body image and lifestyle to others.

Teens may also experience age expectations, where they’re likely to become a little more independent and reserved. They’re adapting. But as parents, you are too.

If you’re a parent and you’re struggling with handling your teens development, here are some strategies to help:

Encourage healthy communication

  • Encouraging common and healthy communication allows teenagers to begin making independent decisions and discuss likely outcomes (whether negative or positive)
  • Practice active listening
  • Take any available opportunity to catch up with them. This builds trust and allows for meaningful interaction.

Help develop a positive self-identity

  • Pay them genuine compliments. Show them that you notice more than their appearance by focusing on their wise choices, their creativity or their ability to act as a good friend.
  • Respect their concerns and encourage them to explore new interests and activities

Teach responsible Decision-making

  • Part of adolescence is about learning to make smart decisions based on personal values. Your child will be faced with choices that test and refine their morals and values. Your teen has a mind of their own, but they still look to you for guidance, even when it doesn’t seem like it.

Make quality time with your Teen

  • Talk to them about activities you find exciting or share fun parts of your day with them. Make an effort to do things together even if you don’t have common interests.

 

The teenage years are a time of many physical, social, cognitive emotional changes.

You’re not alone.

If you or your child is struggling with these changes, Psychologists can provide effective, evidence-based interventions and supports. Our Solutions in Mind team can help. If you would like support with this please give us a call (02) 4722 9097.