One night a kid kisses you good night and snuggles under the covers hugging a well-loved teddy bear.
The next morning, this same kid saunters into the kitchen and responds to your cherry “Good Morning,” with a grunt. He is now a teenager.
And for most parents it does seem like their child makes the transition overnight. While we all expect that our kids will reach their teens and that this is a challenging phase for both kids and parents, we wonder, why. Why has this child changed?
Babies are busy working to become toddlers, toddlers to become preschoolers and preschoolers to become school-aged. But for them it’s most about just getting bigger, older and developing useful skills like talking, walking and dressing themselves.
The work of teens is more complex as they head to adulthood. Their developmental goals are quite different from their younger selves and we help by recognizing this and supporting them as they grow up,
Teens are busy achieving independence from parents. In a very few years they will be adults and need to be capable and self-reliant. They still need parenting but also need more input into decisions. Discussion and negotiation are an integral part of parenting teens. They still need limits and rules but also need to have a say in what is happening.
This a challenging stage. Teens realize that they are reaching the end of childhood and are starting to wonder what is next. At the same time, in an effort to be cool, they can’t really admit that they are concerned. Sometimes they seem to be acting just like toddlers and sometimes like responsible adults.
And this is pretty typical behavior. As they grow through the teens, they will become more self-confident and you will start to see the adult they are going to become.
Teens are also caring of each other and often take up charitable causes. They are fun and exciting as well as sometimes moody and unsettled.
Be supportive and understanding while at the same time setting reasonable limits and expectations and this phase can be easier than you expect.