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6 Tips to Help Teens Ease Into Adulthood

Teenagers are on the brink of the adult world, looking in, longing to belong. They are also children, struggling through a developmental milestone. They begin to physically look like adults, do what adults do such as drive cars and work, and develop adult interests. Yet they have only the life experiences of a child. This presents a challenging transition between the responsibilities of adulthood, and the innocence of childhood.

It can seem a daunting evolution. Some teens go through the transition more quickly and easily than others, adapting to the responsibilities that come with the freedom of adult choices. Mistakes can have large consequences at this stage of life. How frightening for parents to watch, knowing life can change dramatically in the spur of a moment. Lives have been lost due to poor choices. This is the nightmare parents hope remains outside their realm of reality.

And, in trying to keep their children safe, parents struggle with the choice of letting natural consequences take effect, as severe as they may be, or placing their own extrinsic controls over certain behaviors, during a time when their children are eager to defy or ignore any limitations placed on them.

So, how best can parents ease this transition for their teens:

  1. Provide choices that seem appropriate to each specific child. Not all teenagers have the same skills or temperaments. Appreciate and acknowledge the unique gifts and needs that maintain your teen’s individuality. Permit your teens to express themselves and be careful not to impose your own vision upon them.
  2. At the same time, stay firm in your beliefs and values. Know yourself, for at no other time are your own values more challenged than by a questioning teen. Provide clear expectations of behaviour, and provide rewards and consequences according to positive and negative behaviour.
  3. Listen to your teen. Teens today face extraordinary degrees of stress. Do not dismiss their worries and concerns, but empathize and strategize together. Help them to develop confidence in their skills.
  4. Expect mistakes. Berating your child for making poor choices does not undo the problem. Allow natural consequences to teach as often as possible. Part of gaining confidence and living up to responsibilities is learning to deal with the consequences of a mistake. Mistakes without consequences teach nothing.
  5. Be patient. Adolescence is a time of great egocentricity. As hormone levels fluctuate, physical and emotional changes sometimes take over all rational thinking. It is a time of confusion, trying to figure out new feelings. It takes a lot of introspection. Teens can seem obsessed with their own wants and needs, ignoring things outside themselves that feel uninteresting or unimportant.
  6. Respect your teen’s need to return to childhood occasionally. Taking on new responsibilities can be overwhelming at times. When children feel insecure they seek the comforts of home again. Be there and keep the communication door open.

Graduating from secondary school can also be a challenging time for teens. Carizon delivers two workshops as part of its Life Transition Series to help youth and parents through this period of transition.“After Graduation” is for youth 17/18 to help them prepare for this postsecondary transition. “Guiding Your Graduate” is for parents looking to effectively coach their teen beyond high school. Both workshops are offered at Carizon on Tuesday, November 7, 6:30 – 8:30. Call 519-743-6333 to register. Carizon Life Transition Workshops Flyer