Are you struggling to understand the adolescents in your family? Do you find yourself ducking and weaving between mood swings, wondering what has happened to your delightful pre-teen?
Adolescence is generally considered to be the period between ages 12 to 24. It’s a time when your young person is challenging the status quo, pushing boundaries and starting to question almost everything. The good news is these are normal behaviours, although they may vary in intensity between families, or even individual children.
Not the Time to Join their Chaos
Just as with young children, this is not a time to join their chaos. Your role is to remain calm and help them ride the waves of unfamiliar and intense emotional swings. Paradoxically, the times when your young person seems to be pushing you away are usually the times when they need you the most.
When our son was born in 1985 I quickly realised I knew very little about parenting.
Life gave me plenty of time to think about this and how I might do things differently second time around, before our daughter arrived 11 years later. The learning started all over again when I realised that each child is a unique individual. Children don’t come with rule books.
Starting school was an anxious time for her, and she would cling to me on arrival. Then, when I picked her up in the afternoon, she would often kick the back of my seat, angrily yelling at me.
Current Covid conditions have made it difficult to connect with clients face to face, but the good news is that we can still connect online. Social distancing doesn’t have to mean social disconnection.
Online counselling is just like a face to face session, we will be able to see and hear each other, we just won’t be in the same room.
We each have our own way of reacting to traumatic events. These are often learned patterns of behaviour based on our experiences in childhood. They will surface when we feel threatened, such as with the current pandemic and the bushfires earlier in the year. For many of us, these threats have created a sense of fear and uncertainty.
When faced with an experience that is too overwhelming to process at the time, our nervous system automatically reacts, and we generally fight or flee. We often see these behaviours in children, when they as “act out”, in anger or frustration, or shut down. Does this sound familiar?
Rather than seeing these behaviours as something that needs to be controlled, we can choose to see them as survival responses, bringing us a message. The body’s intelligent nervous system is identifying a threat, and is acting to keep us alive.
Does the thought of home schooling terrify you? You’re probably not alone.
I would like to share with you some of the positive experiences I had as a home schooling parent and offer some tips to help make it a useful time for you and your children.
Make it Fun
Make it fun. This is your opportunity to spend quality time with your children. Don’t waste it.
If you’re feeling anxious, breathe – acknowledge your feelings, and be gentle with yourself – it’s going to be OK and you can do this (see my article on anxiety). I openly admit to totally lacking confidence when I started home schooling.
The absolute bonus was that during the process we became best friends. We now have a close connection and a beautiful relationship, which I don’t think would have happened otherwise. My only regret is that I didn’t start sooner.
We’ve all had a traumatic experience with the bushfires in the last few months. No-one who lived through this can have escaped without some level of emotional disturbance. For many, this experience has been profound.
Trauma is not what happens to us, but how our bodies respond to what happens to us. Many of us will need support to help digest and integrate this experience.
Trauma is an embodied experience. That is, we feel it inside our bodies. You might have noticed some of the signs, such as feeling withdrawn or maybe tense and uptight. Perhaps you noticed your breathing has been shallow, or you felt a bit light-headed.
The recent bushfires have been very unsettling for all of us, particularly our children, and it’s normal to be feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Your children might need some help in understanding what is happening.
Your loving care as a parent can make a huge difference to how your children will process their experiences. Spending time together to create a shared family narrative can be a big help. Below are some suggestions that you might find helpful.
We all want to be the best parents that we can be, but sometimes we need a bit of help. This is particularly so if our own childhood was difficult.
The good news is that it is possible to change the narrative, and we don’t have to repeat the mistakes from the past.
Parenting is tricky at the best of times, but even more so with the challenges being faced by parents in the twenty-first century.
Attachment describes a child’s relationship with parents/carer, and is a crucial part of their early development. A securely attached child easily turns to their parents for comfort and support. They see their carers as providing a secure base from which to explore their world. They also know their parents offer a safe haven to return to when feeling troubled.
Toddler tantrums. It happens to all of us. That moment when your toddler “loses it” in public. You feel frustrated, embarrassed and totally at a loss to know what to do.
Your toddler is expressing some really big feelings here. They’ve probably been sending out signals for a while, but in your need to focus on other tasks, its easy to miss them. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, you have a toddler lying on the floor, kicking and screaming.
Have you ever wondered what it is that draws people together, and what it is that pulls you apart in relationships?
Perhaps the answer lies in your attachment style.
Understanding our attachment style helps to recognise our strengths and vulnerabilities in relationships.
Attachment styles develop during childhood, possibly even before birth. They describe a child’s relationship with their parents, later becoming unconscious patterns of behaviour. It is these patterns that often influence our adult relationships.
Rosalind is a PACFA accredited Holistic Counsellor and Psychotherapist and long-term resident of Moruya, on the south coast of New South Wales. An empathic and compassionate listener she will respect your need for safety, trust and confidentiality in the therapeutic relationship.
Rosalind brings to therapy the depth of understanding that comes from lived experience.