Adolescence doesnt have to be scary. Let our experts guide you through the hazards
The Quentin Blake picture book, Zagazoo, tells the surreal narrative of George and Bella, who become parents after they unwrap a parcel containing a newborn. The perfect newborn becomes a baby vulture who squeaks all night; in toddlerdom, he’s a clumsy elephant. When Zagazoo makes the teen years, he turns into a hulk brute who becomes stranger and hairier by the minute, and they made breaking point. Blake’s illustrations get wilder. George’s hair turns grey.” Suppose it never stops ,” Bella anxieties.” It doesn’t bear thinking about ,” George cries.” What will become of us ?”
It’s very funny, but it also imparted a powerful message about adolescence: that it’s something to dread, survive, tolerate- for children and parents.
But does it have to be this way? We asked the experts, from our own advice columnist to counsellors, writers and gaming guru, people with professional and personal experience of the teenage years. The outcome is our guide to espousing your teen, understanding the very real changes they’re undergoing, comprehending the world they inhabit- and perhaps taking a look at yourself, too.
1 Let go
” Parents are biologically driven to protect their child, but in evolutionary words, the protected infant has to grow up and separate, and so the period of adolescence is there for that to happen ,” says Nicola Morgan, who writes about teenagers.
Morgan says this process is easier for teens, because they’re biologically programmed to separate, while the mothers are still in protection mode.” There’s nothing in the parent brain that stimulates it want to segregated from their own children. The difficulty happens when we try to protect for too long- that’s where, often, conflict comes .”
” It’s OK to mourn the loss of the cuddly little person, but espouse the facts of the case that they’re entering a new stage of life ,” Relate counsellor Ammanda Major says.
But don’t think your teenager doesn’t need you any more.” They perfectly do, even though they think they don’t ,” Major says.” It’s just that it’s different from when they were a child and you were in total control .”
2 Understand the biology
Hormones and seismic growth throw adolescent brains into overdrive- and they don’t finish developing until their 20 s. This is pure biology, and it entails teens gravitate towards certain behaviours: emotional roller-coastering, so-called ” bad” risk-taking, lower empathy, susceptibility to peer pressure and weaker impulse control.
” Sometimes its immensely reassuring to know that there’s a biological reason behind some adolescent behaviour ,” Morgan says.” If you’re in the thick of some challenging moments, keep that in intellect .”
This development of the brain also means sleep patterns are affected. Set simply, adolescents aren’t ready for bed when you want them to be, and they might struggle to get up in the morning. It’s useless to get into arguments over bedtimes- things have changed since they were toddlers you could sleep-train. No quantity of arguing and rule-setting can beat biology. Instead, assists them to change their routine where possible to accommodate a new pattern of sleep- even if it’s only at weekends.
Read more: www.theguardian.com