A new school year can make parents squirm with anxiety, asking themselves, “Are my kids going to make the right decisions?”
Kim Waggoner, LICSW, clinical director of the SafeQuest Program at Bradley Hospital, has information to guide parents to help their children make good decisions, and also to understand why sometimes they won’t.
First, Waggoner wants parents to understand that “teenagers are much like toddlers.” This may seem intuitively wrong because there is now an expanse of at least ten years between when your child was an adorable, precocious little tyke and now, when your child is probably a lot less adorable and a lot harder to manage. However, there is a common link between then and now, and it is the act of testing limits.
At the age of two, your child probably tried to climb the stairs more times than you can count. And, you probably rushed to stop him or catch him if he fell. Your child was testing his limits and asking the question, “How far can I go before mommy or daddy will stop me?” Your teenagers are asking that same question and this is developmentally normal.
Though it may be difficult, accept and understand that it is natural for teenagers to want to separate themselves and seek an identity that is distinct from their parents. Then, make four key concepts your parenting mantra: open communication, clear expectations, consistent limits and continuous structure.
Bradley Hospital helps you deal with difficult parenting issues in these comprehensive reference sections:
Parents' Guide to Children's Mental Health
Have questions about common children's mental health problems? Download this one-stop resource for those answers plus information about advocacy organizations and support groups.
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