Blog 20th of April 2017

Help, I have a teenager at home!

As a stepmother, I've got two teenagers at home, one of which is almost 16 and the other, 12. It's safe to say that dealing with adolescents can be a real challenge for many! 

Puberty is a necessary phase that every adolescent has to go through.
What's more, children that don't really seem to hit puberty are more likely to become depressed later on in life.

Puberty is a valuable stage in ones life, and in western culture- it is often misunderstood. In other countries there's something called "puberty rites", where reaching adulthood is celebrated. Perhaps we should start celebrating our teenagers too?☺

As a psychologist, I can tell you that puberty puts forward many important issues such as standing up for yourself, becoming more independent, developing desires, dreams, increased willpower, etc. The step towards independence naturally causes a certain amount of distance to grow between parents and child. Small children are very dependent on their parents, while adolescents become much more distant. It's important to let go, so they can discover their own identity.

During puberty they also develop desires, and these desires often lead to anxiety. They are fearful because they may have values that are different to their parents, educators and society. Some adolescents will start to worry that their family will love them less during these big changes, and some teenagers feel inferior which may result the development of low self-esteem.

It's therefore imperative to keep giving your teenager a sense of safety, security and acceptance, even though you don't always agree with their point of view or actions. This is an essential requirement in order to keep the adolescent's psychological development healthy. The more you start to resist their desires, the more resistant they'll become.

It's totally ok to adjust your own parenting boundaries. In this way, you are giving your teenager the feeling that his/her desires are being recognised. As a result, they'll experience a dose of power necessary for their development.

This is a warm invitation to give your adolescent a little more credit and put faith in the fact that puberty is very useful for your child's psychological development.

Here are some valuable tips:

  • Allow your adolescent to be "stubborn". If teenagers act cocky, it means that they're developing.
  • Listen to your teenager. Rather than immediately telingl them what to do, it's better for you to let them figure out what to do themselves.
  • Explain why you want something. For example, explain why you want your son or daughter to come home at a certain time. Explain why good nutrition is important, and why certain activities are not ok.
  • Dare to negotiate, together, about rules and chores. For example, specify that you want your daughter to clean her room once a week, but let them decide when they want to do it. After all, it doesn't really matter whether it happens on a Friday or a Sunday, does it? Don't interfere too much with their room or their territory.
  • Let the adolescent discover the consequences of their behaviour themselves. So, your teenager isn't putting away his clothes in the laundry basket? Cease to do so yourself. This way he/she feels the consequences for his-/herself and next time there's a good chance that these clothes will land neatly in your laundry basket.
  • Praise your teenager for good behavior. It works much better than giving criticism.
  • In the depths of their hearts, adolescents really wish to maintain a good relationship with their parents and educators.
  • Stay interested and give them mindful attention. Focused attention helps people grow and it makes them happy.
  • Even though there are times when you feel that you're being pushed to the limit as a parent, try not to lose courage. I know for a fact that after the darkness, there's light.
  • Love your teenager and trust that everything will turn out fine.
  • Do not worry too much, every parent faces similar challenges.
  • Don't feel like you're not going to be able to do it on your own. Talk to other parents, confidants, a therapist, or turn to an inspiring book about puberty.

Sincerely, Lieve Plasch.
Lic.Psychologie & GoBalance Driving force
- For a life in balance, explore our website :

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