Terrible twos to teenage angst

There are two specific times during a child’s life when parents feel particularly lost as to how to deal with their kids; during the “terrible twos” and then again when their angelic child turns 13 and becomes rebellious and angst-ridden.

However, there is no reason for Mum and Dad to feel that they have lost control, when a few simple steps can help keep their relationship with their teen on track. Even when things are at their worst – with the child staying out late, experimenting with drink and drugs and getting into trouble in an out of school – as long as parents remember six key tips, there is no reason to fear that a typical teen will end up a rebellious and out-of-control adult.

Understanding is vital, and must work both ways in order for the relationship to stay strong. It is difficult for parents to remember what it was like when they were children; and even is they can, Mum and Dad just want to protect their teen from making the same mistakes they made! Being understanding and empathetic without prying will help your teen feel more comfortable in their own skin, without having their insecurities pointed out to them by the two people who should be protecting them.

Secondly, teens need their own space – both physically and emotionally. If possible they shouldn’t be sharing a room with a younger or older sibling at this difficult time and the last thing they want is a Mum or Dad who is constantly asking them if they are OK or if they want to talk – even if the intentions are kind.

It can be difficult for parents to trust their teenagers, especially if they have already given them a reason not to. The important thing is to forgive and forget; everyone makes mistakes and punishing a teen for being a teen is only going to make them resent you, even if your actions were designed to protect them from themselves.

Even if your child has given you no reason to trust them, allowing them some freedom is a great way to show that you believe in them even if they feel the rest of the world is against them. Parents and kids have struggled to communicate with each other for generations and parents need to accept that their children are going to stop confiding in them at some point and turn to their friends for support. Be patient; once those difficult teenage years are over, you will get your chatty and confident child back.

Teenagers will often resent any attempts by their parents to get involved in their lives, but Mum and Dad should try and make an effort to at least find out more about their child’s interests; listen to the music they like, offer to take them shopping or drive them to places where they like to hang out.

They might never actually say thank you, but they will be grateful one day. Taking an interest in their interests and hobbies has the added benefit of making sure that you know the places they are hanging out and who their friends are; a major area of concern for most teenagers’ parents.