According to clinical psychologist Merve Demir, a transition from childhood to adolescence years is not just limited to physical change but a child’s behaviour and attitude changes too. Parents should therefore be extra cautious during this transition period.
A child assumes that whatever their parent say or does is right, however during adolescence (or teenage) they begin to compare their parents with others and often criticise them. One of the most noticeable difference in a child is their social life, where they prefer to spend more time with friends rather than families, and anything that bothers them, they prefer to share with friends rather than parents.
In general, adolescents are usually supported by a group of friends when they have problems with parents. For them, it is very important to be liked by peers and accepted by the peer group. Unlike the childhood years, adolescents prefers to hang out with similar interests and values and establishes stronger emotional ties with their friends. The friendships established during this period helps the adolescent to prepare for adult life. Through friendship, teenagers begin to feel as a respected individual. They try to solve their problems either themselves or with friends. This increases self-confidence.
As recommended by Merve Demir, parents must pay attention to the following 9 key points for a smooth transition from childhood to adolescence.
1. Be Consistent
Frequent heated discussions with parents is probably at its highest point during adolescent period. Most parents deny their children’s wishes and tell them that they are still a child. On the other hand, the same parent reminds them of their responsibilities, and say that they are no longer a child. What a contradiction. This inconsistent communication interrupts the relationship between the parent and the teen. However, these kind of conflicts are a normal part of your child’s development. Where there’s no conflict or a child not questioning (quizzing) mum and dad, can also be a sign of a problem. For this reason, your child’s negative attitude (and reactions) to your actions and desires is most likely due to the bumpy transition from childhood to adolescence. It then becomes a necessity for parents to listen and step back a little.
2. Have Boundaries And Borders
During this transition period, your child will inevitably protest and act against your will; demand requests that you may not approve of, and behave as if they don’t care about anything. Parents in this situation may be confused as to how they should react. You should be clear and have consistent borders (or boundaries) for them not to cross. These borders can include things like the amount of pocket money they receive each week and the time they should be home each day. However, while maintaining your position, too much pressure (or too little) might just backfire. Children who are over-constrained or complete the opposite (free to do whatever they like) are at risk of been under the influence of their friends. They can also find themselves in risky behaviours. It is important to first recognise that adolescents are unique, and needs to be treated differently. Value their wishes and allow them to express themselves freely, but make sure to set certain limits and boundaries. The boundaries should be discussed with your child, and his/her views should be consulted, and where necessary relaxed. Hard borders can backfire too.
During this transition period, teenagers need to express their thoughts, which may or may not be in line with their parents. Even if there is a disagreement, parents should listen to their views very carefully, and not to impose (or force) your rights and wrongs, for example, how they should be behaving in the public. This could negatively affect your communication with your teen, and may even cause them to share less with you.
4. Respect Privacy And Private Space
It is very important for adolescents to have a designated area (or space at home). Teenagers tend to close the doors of their bedroom and utilise the space as a private den. They may even be uncomfortable when people (particularly parents) intervene with regards their immediate space. It’s always a good practice to knock on the door before entering the room. Try not to interfere with the way they organise their room as a way of respecting their private space.
5. Respect Privacy And Private Space
Due to rapid physical changes experienced during this period, there may also be sudden changes in the emotions of young people. Although during this period a teen may have distanced themselves from parents, don’t forget that they need the ongoing love as much as the old days. However, the way to show your love should be a little different from that of childhood. Because teenagers may feel a bit uncomfortable when parents express how much they love them verbally, and the same applies for physical contact too. Showing interest to their hobbies (and personal interests), appreciating achievements, and been receptive to mistakes are just few ways of expressing your love.
6. Stop Criticising
During adolescence their style of fashion (e.g. clothing, make up, hair style), interests, friends, environment, attitudes and behaviors may disturb parents. However, teenagers can be very sensitive to criticisms during this period, and could easily get offended. So parents should be cautious about criticising, be less judge mental and minimise to underestimate your children.
7. Trust Them
During this period parents can be concerned about the safety and wellbeing of their children. Some even assume that their children may not be telling the truth at times and be suspicious about their behaviours. Scepticism could make the situation worse, and to gain your confidence, a teenager should feel trusted by mum and dad.
8. Do Not Apply Pressure About Their Friends
During adolescence, young people do spend more time with friends. It is a normal part of development when an adolescent distances themselves from mum and dad, which you might feel rather uncomfortable. You might also have the urge to interfere with your child’s relationships with friends (in good faith to prevent from being adversely affected).
Failing to let your teen choose their own friends may spark a conflict. When teenagers are under pressure about the choice of friends, there is a risk of them being under the influence of peers. Therefore, parents should respect the choice of their teen’s friends and not to apply unnecessary pressures (to avoid further conflict). Talking about your teens friends without having to criticise them will enable them to see the truth. If possible, meeting with their friends and family is also a nice way to keep good track of your child's relationship.
9. Be Honest
It’s important to be honest to your child, not just during this period but at all times.
Failing to act sincerely on any subject, trying to deceive your child, and giving incomplete information may have detrimental impact on your child's confidence over mum and dad. Telling the truth might at first cause a disagreement (or even a clash), but it will strengthen your child’s confidence. So, it helps if you could accept that your child is grown, and value their views, choices and desires. Being honest also encourages them to be honest with you.