Teenagers Ages 13 – 18
Breaking Down the Stereotypes of Teenagers
As your child enters their teen years, you may get the impression from articles, news, and people around you that teenagers are wild and uncontrollable, prone to rebellious acts and always angry. A lot of times, adolescents are put under this stereotype unfairly. It’s true that with adolescence comes a new desire to be independent and be among their peers, and with this independence comes an increased risk of drug and alcohol abuse, along with sexual curiosity. However, a person can get overwhelmed when looking at the generalizations made about the whole population of adolescents. Instead, focus on your individual child. If you overwhelm yourself with worries about rebellious teenagers when your child is not showing any signs of turning rebellious, you can cause more trouble than good. Let’s look at some of the areas that cause the most worry.
At this age adolescents tend to seek more independence and go from seeking out their parents for help to talking to their friends about their problems. Just because your child doesn’t talk to you as much as they did when they were ten, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are into anything bad. Part of this is just normal for this age. Allow your child to have their own space, and to have independence, but make sure that they do not cut you out of their life completely. For example, let them stay in their room if they desire, but don’t let them eat dinner in their room, and try to keep the dinner table a fun time, not an obligatory event. Talk to them about their lives, but try not to be judgmental about things that aren’t really a big deal in the long run.
Get to know their friends, and remember that their friends are really important to them, if you critique them too much, it may make your child want to defend them more. Once you get to know their friends, ask yourself what it is you don’t like about them. If it is something small, like the way they look, or the way they talk in slang, you may want to keep this to yourself. However, if their friends are disrespectful of your child or of you, if they smell of smoke or alcohol, if they talk about their relations with the opposite sex in a derogatory manner, you should talk to your child about it. Remember to stay calm and try not to insult them, because this will put your child’s guard up.
Let them hang out with their friends, but maintain a reasonable curfew and know where they are going to be at all times. Reward responsibility and good behavior with more independence. If your child is doing well in school, and their friends are good people, and they are showing your respect, make sure that they know that you are proud of them and recognize their behavior.
Drugs, Alcohol and Sex
It is important to talk to your kids regularly about the risk of Drugs, Alcohol and Sex. Don’t just leave this to their school’s health class; especially if your values differ greatly form the cultural norm. Don’t make it more awkward than it has to be. If your child thinks it makes you awkward or embarrassed to talk about these important issues, they won’t come to you with the questions that they have, and that means they are going somewhere else for the answers.
Make sure that your children know tactics to say no to peer pressure. It has been shown that children who are involved in extracurricular activities, have a good relationship with their parents, do well in school, and have good self-esteem, are less likely to do drugs. It has also been found that teenagers who have a realistic knowledge of drug abuse and what it can do to a person’s life are more likely to avoid drug use.