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Here's what you need to know about parenting teenagers

Over the past 15 years, key learning has developed alongside research into the teenage brain and what happens as children go through puberty and onward.

Here's what you need to know about parenting teenagers

Mother and teenage daughter having an arguument

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock / Rawpixel.com

I'm a social worker who specialises in working with adolescents. I've worked for 25 years with this group, and it is both challenging and utter joy.

Over the past 15 years, key learning has developed alongside research into the teenage brain and what happens as children go through puberty and onward.


The teenage brain undergoes significant development as children go through puberty. Parents often ask me how to manage this period (once they find out what I do for a living and get over the shock that I chose this age group specifically to focus on).

The key takeaway is the impact on behaviour. Sometimes your child is ignoring you.

At other times their brain is doing something, and they genuinely can't respond. Working this out is tricky but worth remembering.

The largest help to managing this often turbulent period is to build an honest and trusting relationship with your child, so they know to come to you when they are worried or scared. The second thing is giving them the skills to problem solve in risky situations.

An example I often use is thinking of them at a party where they're uncomfortable and knowing that they can text you, and you will call them and tell them they have to come home.

This gives your child an acceptable out, so they can leave (and bring friends should they need to) without losing face with their peers, which is crucial.

Their peers are those they go to school or socialise with, and we all know how much influence they can have if we think back to our teenage years. They are finding out who they are and building an identity, deciding who they will be as adults are part of this, as is making mistakes and learning from them.

Separation from family and parents is entirely normal at this age. It is crucial that they know you are there for them and will help them stay safe (even if there is a lengthy discussion the next day about choosing social events with more care).

It's often helpful to emphasise this through a family meeting - more on that later.

As your child grows, giving them appropriate responsibility, so they have an opportunity to make helpful choices and practice problem solving is essential.

It shows respect and builds some kudos for you to drawback when you need to when they are screaming how much they hate you and how little you do for them.

It's not easy, but they will get through it as did you. Good luck.

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