SURVIVING your adolescents.
It sounds like war, doesn’t it – but what most parents don’t realise is that they are usually setting the scene for battle themselves, an expert says.
Centacare New England North West course coordinator Joshua Lions, who will soon be conducting the course for parents, said especially these days with adolescence having stretched from between 11 to 22 years of age because children were living at home longer, it was more important than ever for parents to have a good skillset to deal with the trauma of their adolescents’ mood swings and general behaviour.
“They’re struggling with their own independence ... they need to let go of the apron strings of their mum and dad,” Mr Lions said. “Adolescence is a time when they learn about separation ... leaving the home, but they still want the parents to be there.
“They’re trying to sort out their own world and they need to make sense of it.
“Parents themselves probably forget they went through this.”
Mr Lions did not skip a beat when asked what the worst thing was that parents did.
“Nagging,” he said.
Parents came home from work tired or hungry and took it out on their progeny.
“They don’t know if they’re tired or hungry ... and they generally bark orders at children or adolescents,” Mr Lions said.
“The awareness is not there – we live in a busy, busy world ... our lives are getting faster.”
He said parents needed to have more self-awareness and should practise “active and reflective listening” with their children.
“Parents generally identify with the behaviour and not the problem, so if they identify with the problem, they have an opportunity to go through a problem-solving approach and identify with the strengths that the kids have.”
Too often, he said, parents tried to apply things from when they were young in a “back in my day” approach – but this did not work and children resented the lecture-type approach.
“Kids always have to take risks,” he said.
“Parents don’t understand the mood swings of adolescents.”
He said city areas and country areas had their own “complications and challenges”.
Regional areas faced problems of space, time, access and transport.
The free course, Surviving Your Adolescents, is a two-week program aimed at giving parents, teachers, grandparents or coaches an insight into how teenagers work, while equipping them with the skills to pick their battles and reduce unnecessary stress for everyone.
This course runs over two Mondays – February 11 and 18, 5.30pm-8.30pm.
Bookings on 6762 9200 are essential.
The program has been running in Tamworth for four years, but was originally developed in 1998. It’s based on the actual experiences of parents, in conjunction with the author, Dr Thomas Phelan, of the book the course is named after - and his experience as a clinical psychologist.