The Top Thirteen Teenager Problem Areas-Part II

I’ve been a child psychologist for 27 years. This is the
second in a series of articles on how to deal with teen’s behaviors.
Please read the first article by this same title (Part I) before
reading the below…
Parents have to negotiate most of the aforementioned areas, not just once but regularly. This is the nature of individuation. With teenagers, there is a constant, chronic and inevitable pulling away from authority and routine. Teens like regularity when it comes to meeting needs, but they also love novelty, especially when it destabilizes the predictable, engenders novelty-all breeding grounds for individuation. Parents represent the “state of limitations,” and most teens live with at least one of their parents, so naturally, the drive for independence focuses on and “opposes” parents, who are seen as the “forces of evil.” Built into separating from the status quo is conflict, at the very least tension. How you and your teenager handle astriction depends upon the skills either
brings to “The Dance” (the concept I discussed in earlier articles on
As is the case with younger children, the single most important
variable parents should consider when negotiating these issues is the
teenager’s level of maturity. This means parents must consider things
like capacity to understand consequences; meaning, the ability to anticipate and appreciate the future. Impulsivity, intellectual
availability, susceptibility to social pressure, ego strength, self-esteem and mood fluctuations are other considerations. Most of these fall under the category of judgment, but the latter ones, if out of order, can bleed over into psychological or psychiatric conditions.
Parents have to make a determination, and then communicate their
“findings” in some form to the teenager. This usually takes the form
of verbalizations, but is usually quickly followed by acts. The Dance
continues when the teenager counters with his or her own “contrary”
reasoning, some of which may or may not have merit. The more mature the teen is, the less parents need to dispute, and the less teens need to “present their case.” The opposite is also true; that is, the less
mature the teen is, the more reasons the parents have to dispute, and the more the teen’s argument fails to “hold water.” Paradoxically, the less merit the teen’s argument has, the more persistence there seems to be to prove it valid (often accompanied by noise and other distractions to either obfuscate the point of just distract the parent).
A good example is when a teen wants a cell phone. Because this
is probably the most salient teen crisis point, this subject will be the
topic of a separate and longer article. This is the subject of a
separate article in this article source.
–Dr. Griggs

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