As any mum or dad will tell you, parenting is a time in your life when you are going to hear a lot of clichés; the surprising thing is that so many of them are true. The truest of all the clichés bandied around during parenthood has to be the old chestnuts, ‘they grow up so fast’ and ‘before you know it, they will be a teenager.’ During that early newborn haze you probably smiled politely when on the receiving end of these comments, but then it happens to you – one minute you have a toddler and the next you have a teenager.
Parents of threenagers know only too well the battles that come from parenting a strong-willed toddler. Their unpredictable ways and developing social skills certainly make life interesting, and life soon changes from ‘what to expect when you are expecting,’ to expect the unexpected. Once you have mastered toilet training and sleeping through the night, life feels oh so much easier. Once you have done away with the pushchair and potty, things feel less of a strain, getting out and about gets simpler to manage logistically. By the time your kids are finishing primary school, all those sleepless nights and tantrums will be a very distant memory; heck, you may even feel that you have got this whole parent thing nailed.
But then it happens, suddenly you are ‘sooo embarrassing’ to be around, they disappear into their bedrooms straight after school, and only emerge to be fed. If you thought the toddler years were tough, enter the tween and teen stage, and you will be looking back fondly on those supermarket tantrums with a wistful glint in your eyes as you remember when times were so much simpler.
Preparing for Change
As the pre-teen and teenage years seem to sneak up so quickly, it is beneficial to start preparing in advance to make life easier for everyone.
Developing your child’s self-esteem from early on is a crucial part of their development, and an essential part of them growing into a confident teenager. Self-confidence is something that many people feel they are lacking, and often holds people back, preventing them from having the confidence to live the life that they want to live. Of course, everyone wants the very best for their children, and, no one wants their child to hold negatives beliefs of themselves which stop them standing up for themselves, having healthy relationships and pursuing a job that they love.
Raising your child to have healthy self-esteem and to feel secure in themselves will come in useful for them throughout the rest of their lives, in every aspect of their future. During the teenage years, a child that has a strong sense of themselves is less likely to follow the crowd, and succumb to peer pressure. A desire to be popular, not upset people, and to feel better about themselves can often lead kids into situations that they aren’t necessarily comfortable with but go along with to save face among their peers and to impress them.
A Little Understanding
When you start to see the beginning of teenage-dom approaching, it can feel rather daunting, especially if your normally placid child starts being stroppy with you, and it seems like you can do nothing right in their eyes.
It’s a good idea to rewind your mind to when you were their age and to remember how you felt when you were a teenager. Think about the kinds of things that worried and upset you, and also the changes that were happening with your body and how they made you feel. Thinking back to your teenage years can be useful in developing understanding and getting more of an insight into the types of feelings that your child may be experiencing.
As an adult the kinds of things that teenagers worry about may feel pretty petty in comparison with the grown-up world of work, paying bills, running a household etc., but for your teen, they are a big deal. Remembering how strongly you felt about the things that mattered to you when you were a teenager and how heightened those emotions were, will help you to see things from your teenager’s point of view.
When it comes to kids, parents often spend time either worrying that they are spending too much time shut up in their bedroom and when they’re not in the house, worrying about where they are and what they are up to. Allowing your kids the freedom to go out on their own can be a difficult step to take, and is one that you both need to be entirely ready for.
Instilling values and expectations of behaviour in your child, as well as making sure that they are streetwise can help to a point to prevent them getting into trouble when they are out and about, but sometimes a little extra reassurance is needed. If you would feel like you want to know exactly where your child is when they are out of the house, you may choose to download a phone tracking app for extra peace of mind. Having the app will mean that you don’t need to question your kids when they get in about where they have been and getting into arguments, as you will already have this information at your fingertips. To prevent further arguments, you may want to let your child know that you have the app, and to explain your reasons for using it. Explaining that it isn’t a tool to spy on them, but you want to know where they are so that you know they are safe, may be a good approach to take.
Maintaining Your Relationship
While parenting a teenager can be tricky, just as with the baby stage and the toddler stage, it will pass before you know it. Keeping the lines of communication with your child during this stage will help to preserve your relationship both for now and in the future.