Adolescence is a period of important physical, psychological, intellectual and emotional transformations. Adolescence is also a time when adults have increasing expectations of young people.
They are expected to become more and more autonomous and responsible, to develop their opinions, their sense of judgment, to be able to find solutions to their problems, to make choices, and to accept the consequences. It's lot to do!
How can we help teenagers develop these skills so that they become responsible, independent, and committed adults in a just a few years?
Teenagers quickly want to gain independence. They distance themselves from their parents and question what they think, say, and do. They identify with new role models (new friends, artists, athletes, influencers, etc.). Finally, they experiment with new things, often without telling their parents.
This perfectly normal process of change often causes concern for the parent. Who is my child hanging out with, are they putting themselves in danger, are they using alcohol or drugs?
Experiencing things outside of the family allows teens to build their identity and is essential to developing their independence. They need to make decisions, take initiative, and make their own plans. It is through these experiences that they come to know themselves, to assert themselves, and to trust themselves. Some experiences will be positive, others negative.
The parent should not try to eliminate all obstacles or difficulties that the young person may encounter. This would not be helpful. Parents must also accept that the young person will make mistakes. The parent's role is not to prevent the young person from experimenting, but rather to ensure that it is safe and age-appropriate. With a growing child, the parent must accept that they no longer know and control everything.
Unfortunately, worry comes with being the parent of a teenager...
Of course, teenagers still need rules and supervision (see other article here). But they also need:
When implementing the rules, it is best to avoid power struggles. Remember that your goal is to educate, not control. Set clear and reasonable limits, inside of which your child can make choices. Pick your battles! Accept letting go of certain things (mess in the bedroom...) and remain firm on what you consider to be the fundamentals, such as school grades, going out, drug use, etc.
Expect your child to tell lies. For them, it's a way to preserve their freedom and autonomy. Ask yourself: have you ever lied to your parents and if so, why?
Letting your child make choices means letting them take responsibility for their actions. Don't take all the responsibility for them!
To become increasingly autonomous and responsible, the young person must:
Parents guide their children by taking an interest in them, encouraging them, giving them responsibilities, and letting them make decisions and take initiatives, while being there for them when needed. Autonomy and a sense of responsibility are not innate behaviors. They must be learned. This learning is an ongoing and progressive process throughout adolescence. Be patient! In a few years, you will be able to congratulate yourself for having helped your teenager become a young adult ready to take flight.
Atelier Parent d’ado : Une traversée, conçu par l’organisme Entraide Parents