You and your child emerge from the toddler years (relatively) unscathed; you get them into, and then through, primary school and you start to relax. Surely the big challenges are over and you’ve got this parenting thing sorted?
You could be forgiven for feeling just a bit complacent.
And then the teenage years arrive!
Whether the worst challenges occur during what we might call ‘tweenage’—from about 10 to 12—or actually during the ‘real’ teenage years doesn’t matter.
The issue is one of surviving and managing the behavioural, emotional and physical changes that rock a teenager’s world, and may make them extremely hard to live with for a while.
Many parents will admit to dreading the teenage years, and many more will tell you that their fears were justified.
A Changing World
It is important to remember that teenagers often find their lives very difficult too.
They are going through huge changes emotionally, hormonally and physically. Their bodies and brains are preparing for adulthood, and they are struggling to work out who they are, and what they want to do with their lives.
It is perhaps not surprising that teenagers may be a bit hard to live with from time to time.
Understanding and Communicating with Teenagers
To help you understand more about what’s going on in your teenager’s head and body, you may want to have a look at our page on Understanding Adolescence.
However challenging it's important to keep communication channels with your teenager open. Whether that is through a regular lift to an activity, or family mealtimes.
Teenagers are much more likely to talk to you if provide regular, at least weekly, opportunities for them to do so.
Challenges and Concerns
There are many challenges and concerns during the teenage years. Most, if not all, are related to teenagers’ growing need for independence.
While Increasing Independence is an ongoing issue throughout childhood, it is perhaps during the teenage years that it becomes most obvious.
Teenagers often start wanting to go to Teenage Parties and Sleepovers, and it is a challenge to negotiate rules that will satisfy both parents and teenagers.
Learning and Exams
Another significant aspect of the teenage years is exams. In most countries, teenagers are expected to take some examinations to assess their progress, or to enable them to move to the next stage of education.
You may find it helpful to read our page about how you can support teenagers with exams and revision.
These issues, however, are ‘everyday life’ with a teenager, or ‘business as usual’.
But what if you have more serious concerns?
For general advice and tips about how to address and manage more serious concerns, see our page - Dealing with Concerns About Teenagers.
And for particular concerns, see our pages on:
…you too were a teenager once. Give your teenager (and you) a break from time to time.