The main characteristics of adolescence are mental instability, self-consciousness, and self-centeredness. There is also an internal conflict, which seems to be a prerequisite for growing up – a conflict between irresistible affirmation needs and constant need for support from adults (both emotional and financial). Therefore, adolescents usually require the right to question and criticize adult behavior and standards, even though they oppose the efforts of parents focused on shaping and managing their behavior.
The development of “serious” or whimsical behavior is influenced by a number of factors, such as the pressure of parents to adapt to social rules or dealing with a job they do not want, uncertainty over the future, and the almost universal problem of all teenagers – the relationship with the person of the opposite sex.
Adolescents usually will not completely reject the values of their parents, but they will not even fully accept them. A calm and ”informative” boy or girl can be a cause for concern just as much as their extremely rebellious brothers or sisters. Some conflicts between parents and normal adolescents are inevitable. The problem is particularly common in the ”middle” of adolescence, i.e. when a person is between 13 and 16 years old.
Adolescents are often moody and frustrated. They often think they know everything and reject the advice of the elder, and view all situations from a single standpoint – their own. However, they have much less confidence in themselves, which is one of the reasons for the frustration. For example, they often attach great importance to external appearance. Adopting exaggerated fashion or strange hairstyles may, for adults, look like an embarrassing challenge to established social rules, although in most cases it reflects the need for adolescents to be like their friends and to adopt the fashion and behavior that are distinctly different from their parents’ fashion and behavior. Since they are lacking in self-confidence, most adolescents need ”protection” provided by the dress and behavior of peers. With strong psychological instability, adolescents are also unusually aware of their own physical disadvantages, so they reach the extreme. Therefore, parents sometimes find it difficult – when their children think that life is too hard on them because they have pimples or curly hair – to convince their children that smooth skin or flat hair are not the only prerequisite for happiness.
Since they feel a constant need for support from an adult, some adolescents establish close relationships with adults who are not family friends. That person can be a respectable neighbor, but also a person with whom their parents would not be happy (if they knew about the relationship). This aspiration for relationship with someone they can rely on rarely leads to adverse consequences, and usually does not last long.
At the end of adolescence, from the age of 16 to 18, when most adolescents finish school, rebelliousness is slowly disappearing (especially if they found a job in the meantime). Adolescent will, however, still have a critical attitude, but criticism gradually becomes more constructive and focuses on a wider range of issues, not just in the face of immediate personal interests. There may still be a certain degree of non-acceptance of adult lifestyles, but in those years, in most cases, there are no unpredictable ”storms”, insecurity, and moods that are characterized by the middle phase of adolescence. A young person closer to the twentieth is likely to show all the more mature willingness to compromise and accept the advice.
What should parents do?
A successful relationship between parents and adolescents depends on communication, which is not always easy. You can not expect teenagers to be patient and tolerant. Parents are required to carry this burden – hence the advices mentioned below are for the elderly people. However, adolescents should also pay attention to them. A young person can help parents in those difficult years, by showing them how they know they are trying to help in those ”critical” years. If you are an adolescent, do not forget that parents may have their problems in that period. These and other ”middle life crisis” can affect the degree of compassion and compassion of a parent in relation to your special problems.
For many parents, the basic question is: should we still strictly apply ”old” standards on our adolescent children, with disciplinary measures if necessary, or should we cut them some slack and try to talk about them? Obsessive parenting concerns will obviously irritate the child, but if leave him/her alone for most of the time the chid may think you’re not interested. Your decisions must be based on the standards of behavior and discipline you generally apply in your family. However, do not forget that mother and father must always be unique in their attitude to adolescent children. First of all, agree on what is important to your child’s health and safety. You can, for example, ask your children to tell you where are they gonna be at a certain time, strictly prohibit them from driving a car if they are drunk, etc.
Your attitude to some other issues is also important – for example, the level of arrogance you are willing to tolerate. After that, having determined the basic ”rules of the game”, try to be elastic in other areas, such as dress or speech, which may get on your nerves, but are not so important.
Adolescents are often anxiously concerned with their own appearance, especially hair, skin, or weight. Help them as much as you can. If your daughter is really heavier than normal, help her change her diet. Regardless of the child’s problem, no matter how banal it is, never laugh at it. The ability of accepting their own looks with confidence and possible problems only occurs at the end of adolescence.
What is abnormal behavior?
Sometimes, though very rare, adolescent rivalry crosses the critical point and requires professional help. In some circumstances this help is important. As an example we can state the refusal to go to school (which may be due to unreasonable expectations of parents or their tyranny). As a child starts to run away from school, it is often virtually impossible to get him back on the ”right track”. Therefore, if such a problem occurs in your family, you should consult with the teacher (or teachers), as well as with the school pedagogue. Also, if a child rejects your advice to such a degree as to endanger its position in society, do not hesitate – contact a social worker or similar institution to help you before it becomes too late.
Stress in adolescence may sometimes boost the development of mental illness. Short periods of depression are common in adolescence. However, if your adolescent son or daughter is depressed for longer than just a few days, and if he/she shows symptoms of depression – insomnia, loss of appetite or less interaction with friends or family – contact your doctor immediately. Even mood swings, which are pretty much common in adolescence, may sometimes take such proportions as to require medical attention. Finally, some adolescents (albeit few) can not reconcile with a certain ”catastrophe” in their life (often a love affair) and try drastic ways of running away from reality. In such circumstances boys often resort to drinking or bullying, while girls often take too many doses of medication. Emergency medical assistance is then required.