How to parent adolescents more mindfully

How to parent adolescents more mindfully

Families – 22.04.24

Joanne Jewell is a therapist and mindful parenting expert who has worked in the UAE and the UK for many years supporting families. As a mother of three, Jo has first-hand experience and shares the four things your teenager or pre-teen wants you to know

Sarah Henson
Sarah Henson

The adolescent years, from ages 10 to 19, can be a heady mix of desperately trying to fit in while also wanting to rebel against society and authority figures. For parents, it’s a challenging journey but there are ways to better understand what your child is going through.

The four things your teenager wants you to know:

1 - Adolescents are not ‘over-sensitive and moody’, they are experiencing significant changes in the way their brains are wired. This means they may have bigger emotions but will struggle to communicate them through words and behaviours that we may deem ‘acceptable’ as their ability to self-regulate is still developing. When we can model empathy, compassion and patience they will learn these skills, too, in the long run but not immediately.

2 - They are being prepared to leave home, and for some, this may mean taking greater risks - physically, socially and emotionally - both in person and online. For others, this shift towards growing independence can bring feelings of anxiety and fear of the future. Instead of only focusing on the future, support your adolescent by preparing them to leave home but also by being the parent they need now. They may be bigger and older but their brain doesn’t mature until they are at least 24 years old. They still need parenting, just in a different way.

3 - Pushing boundaries, questioning, challenging the status quo and being disillusioned with adults is all part of the shift from child to adult. Some adolescents embrace this - perhaps too much for us as parents! Some can feel lost, scared about where the world is heading and helpless to direct any change. Setting boundaries as a parent is vital at this age and they can only work within a loving, trusting, secure relationship. Prioritise your relationship above social expectations and accept that frustration is a normal experience for both parents and adolescents at this time.

4 - Influence not control. Adolescents will push back against controlling parents or they will lose the drive towards independence and miss the opportunity to develop the adult skills they need - neither is a good outcome. Repair is key at this age - when you get it wrong, apologise and take responsibility (not always easy in a world that generally likes to blame others). Give your adolescent the time and safe space to reflect on their behaviours and let them know you are always available for them to repair, too - even if it takes a bit of time. This is a key age to teach them about loving relationships as they move into adulthood.

Visit joannejewell.comto find out more about upcoming workshops and ways to connect.