Are you ever terrified of your teenager?
Do you fear the kind of person they may become?
Is there anything you can do?
I have been working at a Pupil Referral Unit for excluded students recently and I don’t want you to experience the kind of behaviour and the consequent upset that I have witnessed. I have seen behaviour that I think all of you would be completely shocked at yet when I have spoken to the students’ parents they love their teenagers and believe that underneath they are good kids.
And I believe they’re right!
The problem is something has gone wrong and these teenagers have behaved so badly in school they have been excluded and ended up with us at the Pupil Referral Unit. In addition, for most of them, their behaviour is only getting worse because they’re surrounded by other “naughty” children. It’s extremely challenging to cut through the unhappiness and the bravado to work on what these teenagers really want.
So I think yes we’re probably all a little fearful of who our children and teenagers are going to become.
After all, you’re not the only influence on your teenager. They mix with a whole variety of different people at school and when they’re not with you. You hope that you have done enough for them to make a wise choice about who they befriend don’t you? But how do you really know?
Now that I’ve terrified you, let me reassure you!
If you’ve been following me through these emails or on Facebook you’ll know that I don’t believe the teenage phase is any different to any other growing up phase but that there are a few specifics that you need to know. I call these The 3 Keys. In short these are:
- Love & Accept Them
- Listen to Them
- Understand Them
I want to reassure you that it can be very simple. At least 80% is about communication – which is something else I talk about a lot. Communication can indeed by tricky with teenagers. They can lurch between complete silence and ranting. Kevin and Perry are perfect examples!
So first of all accept that this is part of being a teenager and is not personal. There’s a lot going on for pre-teens and teens and sometimes they need to have a teenager moment and you can just leave them alone. When you’re not trying to force them to speak to you, you can watch them or even listen to what they’re doing. Observe your teen more and you’ll get to know lots about them. Then you’ll know when something has changed and whether you need to address it.
My second tip is to let your teen sound off to you. Don’t try to solve their problems. They don’t always need that and when they do they’ll let you know. Instead acknowledge how they feel and ask them questions which help them to unravel what’s going on.
So going back to my “terrifying” questions, all you need to do is get to really know your teenager.
2017 Edit: There’s something I’d like to add to this blog since writing it in 2016. Adults tell me all the time that they feel teenagers have too much freedom and do and say exactly what they want. It’s true that our society is more liberal than it was 60 years ago and in many ways this is a great thing.
However does this always help our teenagers to become great adults?
Many of you, at this point, will be shouting No!
So, it’s up to you to set the rules and boundaries for your children and teens. If you don’t want them to have their phone by their side through the night then explain that they can have it til x o’clock and that for their own wellbeing you will be having it til the following morning. Of course they will moan but don’t worry about that. Stick to your guns. In the long run your teen will learn that there are rules that we all have to follow for our own safety and health.
If you feel you need, or would like, more support in setting rules for your teenager you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and book an appointment for a no charge chat to help you get clear on exactly how you want to parent your teen. I’d love to be able to support you through what can in reality be an extremely challenging phase.
PS If you have friends you know are terrified of their teenagers and the future please pass on this email as I’d love to be able to support them too x