Remember the “terrible twos” and the frustrations that came with that period? If this is your first experience with a child going through puberty, get ready for the “terrible tweens.”
If you remember your own emotions during puberty, that might help you be more empathetic. Just be aware, it may not be easy, and it could last for several years. Remain calm, and let us provide some supportive tips for parents during their child’s transition through puberty.
Acknowledge the Changes
Be there for your tween as they go through physical, emotional, and sexual changes to their bodies and psyche. Ask them how bothered they are about acne breakouts and if they would like to try some medications. Ask Elmwood Pediatrics for recommendations.
Talk to them about other physical changes like underarm hair, breast development, and voice changes, as these can be the most noticeable areas of puberty. Prepare girls for menstruation including the mood swings that may accompany them, personal hygiene tips, management of pain and discomfort, and be ready to soothe their anxieties. Explain how all women get their periods, and that it is a completely normal sign of growing up.
Give Them Outlets
There will come a day when they will shut their bedroom door and suddenly cherish their privacy. No need for locked doors, but knock before entering their room. They are trying to establish their independence, and they will appreciate you treating them more like an adult.
Give your teenager the opportunity to engage in things they truly want to do. They may want to give up a sport they have loved in favor of something new instead.
You may have to deal with crazy choices in clothes, funky haircuts, and painting their room a new favorite color. Prioritize and pick your battles. Understand that most of these personality changes will be short-lived.
Remember their emotions may be on high alert and sensitivity, so tread lightly and wait for them to calm down before engaging them in conversation.
Let your adolescent know that they can come to you with any questions and you will do your best to give them the answers they need. Find age appropriate books and videos to help educate them in case you are unsure of what to say. Give them instructions about how to handle certain social situations, developing self confidence, and the difference between right and wrong. Then just listen.
Parenting In the Age of Social Media
It may be safe to say that social media has drastically changed the game of surviving puberty. Online shaming and bullying is rampant as is depression and serious bouts of anxiety and insecurity. Watch for signs of depression and withdrawal in your teen. Keep an eye out for influential new friends, and the development of unacceptable behaviors. You are still the parent, and it’s your job to guide them through this turbulent time in their lives.
The Same Boat
Parents with tweens and adolescents are all in the same boat, all going through the same trials and tribulations of a child growing up in today’s world. Some kids breeze through it, while others seem to be stuck on the emotional roller coaster.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from relatives and friends, or from Elmwood Pediatrics if something continues to trouble you about your child’s behavior. It doesn’t make you a bad or failed parent – just the opposite.
Contact Elmwood Pediatrics for more information about physical changes during puberty, or if you are concerned about your adolescent’s behavioral health.