Canadian parents are bracing themselves for the start of the new school year and the challenges many face with their teenagers.
“I think that it is a really challenging stage because there are changes to the teenager’s brain that manifest in behaviour…” says Ann Douglas, author and parenting expert. “You see teenagers pulling away from parents, asserting their independence, acting impulsive, being emotional. This is all just standard teenager turf.”Listen
Parents can feel rejected
It can be difficult for parents to see their children pull away, she says, especially if they take it personally. But parents should understand that even though they may feel rejected, children can still want a relationship and a connection as “they spread their wings.”
Douglas suggests parents keep the lines of communication open and let adolescents know that they are loved and accepted unconditionally. She adds it is easy to overreact to situations but suggest parents not rush to judge and give their teens the benefit of the doubt.
Trust your parent radar, advises author
Ground rules are good, says Douglas. She counsels not allowing mobile phones at the dinner table so that family members can talk, and that they be left outside the bedroom so everyone gets a good night’s sleep.
Beyond that, Douglas says parents know their children best and if they notice something is wrong they should act on it. Teens may be unhappy, lethargic, not interested in their usual activities. These are warning signs and depending on the severity of symptoms, parents may want to seek professional help for their teens.