Teenage Years is a period of fast biological and psychosocial changes, which have a significant effect on parent-child relationships. A combination of puberty, hormones, peer pressure, and the growing need for independence can be a challenge for any parent. During this turbulent period, both parents and adolescents go through significant formation of new responsibilities and move toward a more equal relationship. Every parent wants to be able to love and guide their child like they always have in the past. However, parents need to understand that just as the adolescents are changing, the parent-child relationship needs to change as well. Although conﬂicts between parents and children grow to be more regular and more passionate during adolescence period, these conﬂicts are also thought to be a way to negotiate relationship transformations. Therefore, the brief processes that happen during these conﬂicts are crucial in the growth of a healthy parent-adolescent relationship. It is believed, that families with more emotional flexibility during conﬂict interactions tend to adapt effectively and reorganize their relationships in response to the developmental needs of adolescents. Thus, parent-adolescent conﬂicts have positive outcomes for relational development of the child when parents can switch ﬂexibly between an array of positive and negative reactions.
Development of Parent–Adolescent Relationships: Conflict Interactions as a Mechanism of Change
Many studies show that parent-adolescent dyads with better emotional flexibility in conﬂict situations shift more toward an equal and open relationship than those with less emotional flexibility. The flexible emotional conflict resolutions can create a safe environment in which adolescents can be negative while also developing emotion-regulation skills and learning to control their negative emotions effectively.
These are some of the most formative years of their lives, teens are going to develop an understanding of themselves and learn communications skills according to their experiences within the family. So, it is great for their development to know that their parents are there for them, and are willing to recognize that they have a young adult who deserves their respect and support. Parent-adolescent dyads with more emotional rigidity seem to have difﬁculties expressing, adjusting, and regulating emotions during conﬂict interactions. In this kind of environment, adolescents do not feel a supportive and safe framework to discuss conflicting opinions and opposing emotions, and are consequently less able to ﬂexibly handle different emotional challenges.
In general, many research studies suggest that conﬂicts between parents and adolescents are accommodating for relational development when both parties are able to switch ﬂexibly between a range of emotions.
The ﬁndings in this research Parent-Adolescent Relationship may help families understand how they can adjust their patterns of interaction to the developmental challenges of adolescence. ‘Parents often think they should suppress the negative emotions of their adolescent children and encourage their positive emotions, or they should avoid expressing their own negative emotions during conﬂicts. Instead, adaptive interactions during adolescence seem to be characterized by a range of emotions. Parents should learn to guide adolescents to express, share, and regulate a range of positive and negative emotions’.
What does Dr. Daniel J. Siegel has to say on the child’s brain development
Watch this interview with Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, a psychiatrist, neuroscientist, educator, and bestselling author, if you would like to learn more about the brain development and outcomes of the positive parent-child relationship on the child’s development of the mind.
In this short interview, you will learn what integration of right and left brain is and why it is so important in adolescent development. Understand how a parent’s self-understanding is one of the biggest predictors of how a child turns out. And how you can become a more integrated parent in order to help your own child develop.
It can be concluded from both, the research study and Dr. Daniel J. Siegel’s interview, it is crucial for the parent to become more aware and conscious of their own emotions and behaviours as well as develop some adaptation skills to meet the fast changing adolescents’ developmental needs.
5 Tips for Building a Healthy Relationship with Your Adolescent
Some of the things that parents can do to promote a healthy relationship with their teens is to act as an authority figure, as well as someone to talk to and confide in. Parents have to make sure that they are clearly communicating to their adolescent that they are present, and that any concern or worry they might be experiencing (no matter how small or big they might seem to the experienced adult) is going to be met with love and no judgment.
Communicating an understanding to the adolescent that their need for independence is important and heard but the parent is still in charge within the household is important for setting healthy boundaries and creating a solid family structure. The goal is to raise a healthy, well-balanced young adult who knows right from wrong, cares about others, and takes pride in themselves and their abilities.
Here are five ways the parent can help keep the parent-child relationship strong and happy for both sides:
Spend time together
When the child enters a teenage year, suddenly parents become not the most popular people in their life. However, planning and keeping up with the family structure can help provide support and a sense of safety for the teen – not to mention the opportunities of deep conversations that arise from being in each other’s company. Bonding activities such as family meals (without the TV on or cell phones present), joint household tasks, board game nights, or family trips are all great means of emotional connection. The most important thing that you can do during these times spent together, is to make sure that the child knows that your support is available to them when they need it.
Set a good example
You do not have to be perfect, but it undoubtedly helps for teens to look up to their parents as role models for their own behaviour. Be mindful of how you are looking after your own physical and emotional health. Children are most likely to mimic what they see at home as acceptable habits.
You may have a young adult in the house, but you are still the main adult, and you need to make sure your child knows that you are the one who sets the limits. Parents’ goal is to focus on the value of setting boundaries for your teen in a calm and firm manner. Having no boundaries can lead to adolescents going into adulthood with the disorganized sense of having too much freedom and not understanding how to follow the society rules.
Do not make fun of your children at any age, but especially during the adolescent age as they are very sensitive to any kind of criticism. Hearing fun comments from their parents can hurt teen’s not fully developed and fragile sense of self-worth, which might lead to poor self-esteem. This, in turn, can make them feel unhappy and unsafe at home.
With the pervasiveness of cyber-bullying these days, teens days have more to worry about when it comes to criticism and taunts. Teasing can feel like torture to a sensitive adolescent.
Show you care
Whether it’s by making them a special lunch or by sending them notes ‘I love you’ (when no one sees), it’s important that your child feels loved and supported by their you during these turbulent years. If you have a fight with your teen, take the time to apologize and emphasize that you love them no matter what. Put a focus on the strength and unconditional love of the family unit and encourage your teen to be a part of that as well.
It is not always easy being a parent especially during these challenging teenage years, but it is worthwhile to take the time to foster a strong, healthy relationship that promotes respect and love between both parties. Although every teenager is different, it is essential that you provide both guidance and support as your child going through the storm of adolescence.
I hope this was helpful. If you have any question or comments, please, contact me by email [email protected]