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How to survive your child's adolescence

The teen years are a time of rapid change and growth. Some tension during this time is natural and normal.

And you thought the terrible twos were an experience. The teen years encompass one of the biggest periods of change, growth and adjustment that parents and kids ever face.

And that's just as it should be.

Puberty and adolescence mark the growth of your boy or girl into a young man or woman. Physical changes are just the tip of the iceberg. You don't expect them to fit into the same clothes after adolescence. You shouldn't expect them to fit the same emotional or social roles either.

With all the adjusting on both sides, it's no wonder parents and kids tend to hit rough spots—or years—during this time. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers this advice for getting your family through the teen years (somewhat) peacefully:

  • Spend family time and alone time with your teen. Remind him or her often that your door is always open.
  • When you're talking with him or her, listen closely and don't interrupt. Try to make sure you understand by repeating things back in your own words or asking your teen to explain it again.
  • Always respect your child's feelings, whether or not you understand them.
  • Criticize the actions, not the person. Try "I get upset when I find clothes on the floor" instead of "You're a slob."
  • Stick to your guns on rules and limits. Teens actually see this as a form of caring.
  • Remember that separating from their parents is normal and natural for teens. Try not to take it personally.
  • Let your teen be who he or she wants to be instead of insisting on your own plan. Don't overreact at small matters of clothing or hairstyle.
  • In times of trouble, talk to your pediatrician.

Reviewed 3/3/2023

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