Just recently, I was talking with a 16 year old teen about what it was like to be 16. He said,
There is a lot of change at 16. You know it is hard to believe I am almost 17, and that 10 months ago I was just 15….there is a very big difference between being 15 and 17! A lot has changed in my life. I have gained some good things, and some bad things. I have lost some good things and some bad things. Now, I am deciding who I want to be.
What a great way to put it! At 15 years old, teens are just entering middle adolescence. High school is a new experience, thinking is becoming more abstract, and opportunities for new activities (both in school and with peers) are expanding rapidly. By 17 years old, teens are gaining more and more autonomy and developing increasing amounts of responsibility for themselves and for their choices. They may be driving, working, dating, and juggling activities and school.
This period of time is a transformative time when teens try on new styles, build new friendships, take new jobs, and engage in new activities…..all in a search for understanding who they are, who they are becoming, and who they want to be in the future. They are living out the consequences of their choices, however negative or positive they may be. Even though many teens are reflecting on how their choices shape their identity, lack of brain development in the frontal lobe can make it challenging for them to think deep into the future. As parents, it is important to remember that you can facilitate increased awareness by showing empathy, asking questions, and sharing your experiences with your teen.
Teens this age can act like adults one minute and kids the next, as they actively work to integrate all the different aspects of the self. Throughout this process, teens need parents to use positive parenting techniques that help them build self-esteem and confidence. Positive parenting is a psychological term that is used more and more to describe a form of disciplining children and teens. It differs from the more traditional sequence of positive rewards and negative punishments by putting a bigger focus is on communication, empathy, and understanding. Positive parenting can be done in conjunction with setting limits and boundaries that match your family’s needs and values. Below are 5 positive parenting tips that can help you connect with your teen:
- Seek understanding: Try to approach situations from their perspective. Teens like it when you try to speak their language.
- Talk with them, not at them: This means asking lots of questions, searching for clarity, rephrasing what they say back to them.
- Get to their level: Sit together so that your eyes can connect at the same level.
- Separate the deed from the doer: Show teens unconditional love by addressing the behavior without being critical of them as individuals.
- State what you would like, not what you don’t like: Try saying “Feel free to take hourly breaks to check your Facebook” instead of “Don’t get on Facebook while you are doing homework!”
There is a consistent link between self-esteem in children and these kinds of parenting characteristics. Children with high self-esteem describe their parents as encouraging independence and being accepting of who they are as individuals.
- Positive Parenting – Tips and Techniques for Any Age (shareitforward.ca)
- Positive Parenting & Playful Parenting (shareitforward.ca)