Mum: I don’t know lah, I really don’t understand you!
Teenage girl: You think I understand what I’m going through?
I don’t understand myself either ok!
Has that happened to you before?
Yes it’s true, our teenagers are also having a hard time understanding the changes that they are going through, thus their behaviour.
Above is one example where the teenager is able to express her own frustrations that she is going through, but not all teenagers are able to do that.
Some would keep mum but express through their “rebellious” actions, while some would always be arguing back with you and there are others who totally keep to themselves and shut themselves off from you and that’s even more dangerous as you don’t know what is going on inside their minds. We worry that those are the kinds who cannot express themselves well and may well keep all the stress to themselves and worse still result in self harm or ultimately suicide.
Think about it, in the last couple of weeks I spoke about how we can look at SPIES to understand better what our teens are going through.
Let’s recall what do SPIES stand for;
S – social
P – Physical
I – Intelligence
E – Emotional
S – spiritual
As it is they are at a stage of forming their own identity, thus moving away from independence from their parents, yet not able to fully detach considering their age and the lack of maturity and full confidence to be fully independent.
The physical changes that they go through does not help the fact that as it is there is a lot going through their minds as they make sense of how they are changing the way they think, making sense of the world around them as they move from concrete to abstract thinking; learning to observe and express opinions of the things that happen around them.
Therefore all these changes going on in their body and their minds result in result in a diverse range of emotions as they learn to cope. It does not help that they are also exposed to so much more on the internet and social media specifically; example what is socially accepted where outlook is concerned, be it physical shape of the body or the fashion that is current and “accepted”. All of the above definitely increases the level of stress that the teenager is going through. So how can we as parents help adolescents go through this stressful period well, or how can we build resilient adolescents?
We must also understand that the ability to cope well and adapt to stress is dependent of a number of factors. “Certain genetic factors, such as temperament, make some people more sensitive to stress. On the other hand, certain environmental factors such as family and community can help to mitigate the effect of stress by enabling youth to become more resilient in the face of stress.”
Set Rules, Boundaries and Limitations
Teens who can cope well are those who feel safe, supported and and secure knowing that they have support from their immediate environment; peers, family, school and the community. “Rules, boundaries, and limitations serve to create a sense of safety and comfort.” For example, how many of you feel that you can never get your children to do their homework/housework. Did you tell them your expectations? Did you set rules, limits and boundaries? For example after you finish your homework you can watch tv or you do 30 mins of revision then you get 30 minutes of game time?
When you communicate your expectations of them clearly, set the limits and boundaries for them, they actually tend to be more compliant and cope better with what is expected of them. Simply, no one likes uncertainties. Without boundaries, kids can feel emotionally unsettled and insecure. Being a child – young or old – can feel scary when the world appears to be uncertain.