I have family law clients with a variety of issues that arise in raising their children and divorce. I am asked all types of questions, not necessarily pertaining to law, but also the simple how-to-manage teen problems in a manner that will prevent litigation issues, as well as be best for the children. For any parent with a teenage child, or soon-to be-teenage child, they raise, I recommend the book: Teen Stages. It provides insight and another way to think about your developing child after the baby and young years have passed. The insight in this book makes it much easier to exercise patience and understanding with rebellious or uncooperative teens. For example, consider that your teenager, though physically and mentally more mature, has emotionally regressed back to the toddler years. This explains teenage rebellion, defiance and emotions in a way many parents can relate. If they think of their child as an adult, just because they are bigger and look more mature, they cannot. It helped me dealing with my teen as well as with advice to others in difficult situations, and it may help you, too.
Waves of life: One topic I found to be particularly interesting was the theory that “Just as the tides in our oceans and the way we breathe ebb and flow, so our life energies ebb and flow.” Suggesting that we have 7 year cycles of alternating between being introverted and extroverted. The cycles are designed to shift every 7 years, roughly lining up with significant life transition periods. It is with these transitions that we shift between outwardly and inwardly directed living. Teenagers are affected by this and may flip-flop from their younger tendencies causing discord, miscommunication and confusion. Being aware of the dynamic and change possibility is important.
Regression: When children reach the age of 13, they begin to regress emotionally. As such, they revert to thinking, feeling, and acting as they did when they were babies. My 21 year old assistant wants you to know: “Not all individuals experience this regression extremely,” but it is suggested that nearly all individuals experience it to a degree. My assistant is the exception to the rule having moved from her home at 16 for college, but most children are not this exception. Take the advice given in this book on a case-by-case basis. Most children, fall within a range well covered by this book even if slightly off in terms of physical versus developmental age. The book gives this general guideline:
‘The Baby’ Conception- 18 months
‘The Dissenter’ 18 months- 2 years
‘The Fledgling’ 3-4
‘The Sweet & Sour’ 5-6
‘The Romantic’ 7-9
‘The World Leader’ 10-12
The Book also promotes “Intensity to match”: Another tactic I found insightful was to match the intensity of the child. Particularly for 14 year olds, in the dissenter phase, during which angry outbursts and resistance are commonplace. A good tool for handling angsty teens is to respond with the same level of passion that they engage in, but let them gauge the intensity. For example “If they engage us quietly and calmly, then we engage similarly with them. If they engage us vigorously and strongly, then we meet their vigor and strength equally,” (p.111). This does not necessarily mean shouting. Sometimes quiet intensity can work even better than a yelling match. By all means, if your teen is extreme, suffering from mental or addiction issues, and engages in extreme intensity, you should never match that to the point of abuse or harm to yourself or your teen. Seek professional assistance. Otherwise, seeking an intensity match, not beating your teen’s intensity, but matching him or her, short of serious safety issues, may be a productive option.
Remember, if you are having trouble with your teenager, educate yourself. Seek professional help, if needed. And, consider the personality and temperament and history of the child weighed against any recommended conduct. Different people respond differently to the same stimuli. Read and learn all you can. This is just one book of many that may be of use to you.
Check out Teen Stages: The Breakthrough Year-By-Year Approach to Understanding Your Ever-Changing Teen for yourself! Or pick up the 2nd Edition! After clicking this link below on Amazon, if you make a purchase, I may be able to buy myself a cup of coffee and keep writing with energy to spare! Thank you for reading and I hope it as well as other books and materials can help you and your family.