AUBURN, Ala. – Talking to your teenager can often become a very difficult and stressful task. However, there are steps you can take to develop and encourage a healthy relationship.
Building the Relationship
“Research has shown that the ages of one to three are extremely important with regard to creating trust and a strong parental relationship. Give children choices early in their lives. Make sure choices are age appropriate and are what parents want them to choose,” Hooker said.
Often, parents want to be more of a best friend to their children. However, it is important that parents reserve this type of relationship until after children reach adulthood.
“It is extremely important for parents to listen to their children, and to let them know that their thoughts and ideas are important. As parents begin meeting their child’s needs — providing a good role model, creating mutual love and respect — this same relationship most likely will continue as the child grows into the teenage years,” said Hooker.
Why is my teenager acting this way?
Understanding the reasons behind your child’s behavior can help you decide how to approach conversations with them.
Hooker said, recent research reported that the age the frontal lobe actually develops is 28, instead of the previously thought age of 25. This explains why teenagers and even young adults sometimes make poor decisions.
Hooker also mentioned a recent study done on the impact of hormones during puberty. The study found that hormonal changes do not happen gradually between the ages of 0-18. Instead, they come in large spurts.
As parents of teens know, puberty is a very powerful developmental stage. It is no surprise that it affects teenagers’ behaviors and moods as it does.
Helpful Tips for Healthy Relationships
Facing a tense parent-teenager relationship can quickly become discouraging.
“Patience is important. A teen recognizes that the parent has his or her best interest at heart most of the time, even if it is not an immediate realization,” said Hooker.
Hooker suggested a list of tips written by Kevin Ryan, the founder and former director of Boston University’s Center for the Advancement of Ethics and Character. A few of those steps include:
- Get involved with your child’s school life. Daily ask the child about their experiences at school.
- Pay attention to what your child is watching and hearing.
- When you punish your child, do so with a loving heart. Always explain what the punishment is for.
- Have a daily family meal. A meal is a great place to open the lines of communication and hear what is going on in your child’s life.
- Communicating desired behavior is important, but leading by example is crucial. Encourage good behavior by demonstrating it.