If there is one thing that every parent tends to dread, it’s the teenage years. The biggest reason for this, is that they remember exactly who they were when THEY were the teenager, and they’ve watched their own personality shine through their child for years already! Teenage years can feel like a total minefield, and while you’re busy thinking about how you will get through it without too much wine, your child is also wondering how they will cope. Transitioning from being a child to being a teenager is not easy. You’ll remember the angst, the sadness, the exhilaration of feeling a little freer than you were as a child. Yours is going through those very same emotions right now, plus a dollop of hormones and puberty on top. As hard as it is for you to look at your child and realise they’re starting to mature, it’s harder for them to go through it.

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Today’s teenagers are dealing with far more than what we dealt with. Most of the adults now grew up in a time where technology and social media was only just getting their beginnings, and so never had to deal with the fact that playground bullying and upset can follow you home. Now? Now, social media rules the roost and your teenager will be dealing with a type of peer pressure that you never had to face. It’s only reasonable to ask yourself how you’re supposed to help your child navigate this time, if you have no idea what they will face yourself? Teen years are complicated enough as it is without the pressure of social media adding to it. Preparing your child for their teens is going to take more than you would have needed at the same age. So, how can you help them navigate the choppiest of waters so that they come out of the other side well-rounded and happy?

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Communication

You are a parent, which means you are in charge of every aspect of your child’s life. The thing is, when you get to the teenage years, you have to start letting that go. To be able to gain a mutual trust and respect with your youngster, you need to sit down with them and talk – and do it regularly. Teenagers are thrown into a hormonal deep end, and there will be endless chances for you to discuss everything related to teenage years. Their hormones and puberty are going to change them and you’ll need to be open enough that they can come to you without fear of judgement.

Support

A good parent is a supportive one, and for your child, turning thirteen is a big deal. It’s a huge transition for them, and there are some amazing birthday party ideas out there that you can read here. A nice idea is putting together a “box of support” to present to them on their birthday. This can include their baby book, some personal care items such as body wash sets and for acne sufferers, gels such as DUAC can be bought online for the care package. You can even add in a diary for girls about to menstruate, and a journal for the boys with a guide on what’s going to happen to their body over the next years. The hormones? They’re going to be scary sometimes, but support is the most crucial thing that you can offer your teenager.

Understanding

There are going to be moments that your teenager is so overwhelmed by the hormones and feelings that are rising inside them, that they won’t be able to communicate in the right way. Understanding their needs is going to be your job; whether that’s space or a hug! The best thing that you can do for your teenager is to ASK what they need. It’s surprising how many parents don’t realise that with a little understanding and a conversation, they can get exactly what they need from their child.

The teenage years aren’t just a trying time for you. That little baby you brought home from the hospital is growing up, and you’re about to witness them go through one of the hardest parts of life: figuring out who they are and what they want from life. Be present with them and be their biggest fan and biggest help. It won’t always be easy, but it’ll always be worth it. It’s you they’re going to thank on graduation day, and you shouldn’t forget that!