Teenagers are a challenge, no doubt about it. Your son is no longer a little boy, and he’s leaving aside some of those things you loved about him from his childhood. And your little girl is becoming a woman. So it’s time to adapt to the behaviors, beliefs, and values that will consolidate their identity as an adult.
Sometimes these behaviors can cross a line, since they are going through a “crisis of values,” but don’t panic: this is a normal and necessary situation for their development. They need to grow and mature in order to become an adult.
To help them forge their personality, grow in self-esteem, and become respectful, tolerant adults with a sense of solidarity, teenagers need understanding and sensitivity from the adults who surround them at this key moment in their lives.
Educating our children’s emotional intelligence is critically important. We need to help them develop affectivity — aspects of their personality that include belief systems, emotions and attitudes. These will all have a direct bearing on their human, intellectual, academic, social, and religious development.
Here are a few basic tips:
1. Know your teen
We need to know our teens and accept them as they are. Use their contradictions and capacities to teach them, starting with respect for their personal uniqueness.
Many teens have traits that can seem contradictory (and this is not abnormal). When teens gather in discussion groups for a psychological study, they see themselves as competitive, irresponsible, hedonistic, consumeristic, unmotivated by academics, lovers of instant gratification, and yet marked by a sense of solidarity, with strong friendship bonds and a feeling of comraderie.
Psychology also shows that teens are interested in daily events and in whatever is immediate and useful for their own life. They want to live life now, because they are in search of emotions; but when facing the challenge of building their own future, they also have aspirations and great expectations: they want to find love, form a family, have a good job, get social and economic status, and so on.
On the other hand, a transcendent aspect for their maturity is that during this stage, they begin to exercise their freedom, becoming more independent in the way they dress, the friends they choose, and the activities they do. They are often worried about the implications and future consequences of their decisions.