Summer is here, school is out, and now parents are challenged with keeping their 13-14-year-olds on track. If you have a 13-14-year-old, you may be already acutely aware that this is an emotional time of passage for kids. It is a time when necessary skills, such as home rules become neglected as other things take over their lives, such as their friends’ thoughts and opinions. The kids in this age group aren’t fully mature yet so things like opinions of others, and doing what is essential at home can get pushed to the back seat. Stress in their lives becomes apparent to those around them, like parents and outbursts and anger surface more often than not.
How these and other challenges are handled for kids at this age, carry through to adulthood and often cause masked problems for them as adults, for which they cannot remember a source. The stability of the parent when handling stress and inconsistency is very crucial for kids at this age. They need parents who are calm, who give them a little room to be independent and make mistakes, without hurting themselves, of course. By giving kids a small space, even when you want to enforce a rule or practice at home can provide kids with a little room to own a particular behavior later on. That “later on” might be the same day or week, or maybe years later. Rest assured that the topic will come up, and views and thoughts will be exchanged on a more mature level for both the parent and the adolescent.
Kids at this age need help with working through friendships. Sometimes that means choosing friends, other times; it means helping them have difficult conversations with their friends about something that has come between them. It is vital to help them to know that friendships sometimes have a season and when that season is over, and things don’t seem to be the same as they were, it is okay to end a relationship. When we help kids to negotiate relationships in life, we are giving them life-long skills upon which they can draw on in the future. Relationships are one of the most challenging aspects of life and helping kids to be calm when they want to be angry or even be aggressive with someone may be just the skill that saves them in a job later on in life.
Finally, the solidity of the family helps kids this age tremendously! When they can come back to their family, be themselves, and be relaxed, they have a haven to retreat to when life seems unfair. The two critical aspects of making these work are trust and communication. We will cover these in the next blog. Meanwhile, leave a comment for me regarding the challenges that you have noticed with kids of this age.
Yours for Better Parenting,