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Understanding Your Tweens And Teens

When relationships between you and your child appear to be changing and even breaking down, it’s important to understand your tweens and teens. Adolescence brings huge social and emotional changes resulting in confusion for them. It can also result in tension and conflict between you and your tweenager or teenager. Getting an understanding and clearer picture into why they are behaving as they are can considerably improve the relationship you have with them. In my latest article from Becoming Aware, I look at why they are acting as they do and how you can help.

Brain development in tweenagers and teenagers

The Australian parenting website, Raising Children describes how the early years are a critical time for brain development and how the brain still needs a lot of remodelling before it can function as an adult brain. This brain remodelling happens intensively during adolescence which continues until your child is in their mid twenties. Adolescence is a time of significant growth and development inside the teenage brain and these brain changes affect their thinking and behaviour. It therefore follows that how they spend their time is crucial to their brain development. You, as a parent are an important part of your child’s environment. How you guide and influence your child will be important in helping your child to build a healthy brain too.

Adolescence is a huge transitional period

Your child’s brain is rewiring between the ages of 12-25 and the brain does not have the ability to make rational decisions so if you say to your teen, ‘What did you do that for?’ and they reply, ‘I don’t know’, that is genuinely the truth. This ability starts to come from early twenties. Hormones are raging during adolescence as your teenager is learning to become independent and it is a huge transitional period.

How you can support your tweenager or teenager

· Look at their positive points - remember who they were when they were younger and they are still that lovely, joyful person inside

· Listen to their ideas without judging them, often they just need us to listen and not criticise, improve what they’ve come up with, fix or solve a problem

· Accept their behaviour is part of the growth process and they will move through it

· Do not keep telling them they are rude, lazy, and uncommunicative. This may be the case at times, but the more they hear it and have it affirmed, the more they will believe it to be true and act accordingly

· Give positive reinforcement – say ‘well done’. It’s important for them to hear positive words, for the little things during this time, as well as the big things. If they look good, tell them

· Don’t take their behaviour personally. It may feel as though it is aimed at you, but often it’s not about you. If you can take ‘you’ and the adult perspective out of it, things will be so much easier for everyone

· You can’t change them, but you can change how you react and feel which can make a massive difference to how you relate to each other

· Seek professional help for yourself or both of you. If you release how you feel within the relationship it will have a knock-on effect on your tween/teen and you are likely to see improvements

Give positive reinforcement and do not take it personally

Consider all the good things they do, the positives more than the negatives. They do not need to be continually told of the things you don’t like and certainly don’t share this with family and friends. The more you reinforce the negative of their behaviour, the more they are likely to continue with it so, focus on what you do want by saying ‘be polite’, instead of what you don’t by saying ‘don’t be rude’. Saying ‘well done’ will also go a long way and use it for minor achievements, not just their big accomplishments. It’s difficult not to take things personally, but understand it is where they are now, and it is part of the development process.

Be fully present when spending time with your teenager or tweenager

When you spend time with your tweenager or teenager, make sure you are fully present and that means no phones to distract either party. This time can be just ten minutes but it will provide for a better relationship and allow your adolescent son or daughter to get things off their chest. If they want to share, you must listen. They do need to feel they are significant and that they belong. And don’t forget, as a parent, you need to take time out too!

How can Becoming Aware help in improving relationships between parents and their tweenagers and teenagers?

With summer holidays here, I hope my latest article will help to improve relationships, as you will probably be spending more time with the family. As a Mental & Emotional Wellbeing Specialist, I seem to be working with people on these issues at the moment, both parents and the children. I find the biggest impact and rewards are gained when I work with both parties involved as each comes from a different perspective. ‘I just can’t communicate with my tween or teen and find them rude’ could be a thing of the past. Call me on 07766 427966 for a free without obligation chat or email

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