There are some adults who wonder what’s going on with ‘tweens’ and teens these days.  They just get unruly at a moment’s notice and can flip the script behaviorally just as fast.  It’s like living with Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde.  And it seems to be happening sooner in age.  Some parents wake up and go to sleep nervous because they’re not sure who they’ll meet the next day and during any given encounter for that matter.  They may even go to the lengths of feeling like hostages in their own homes and walk on egg shells.  On the other hand, the teenager finds difficulty regulating the self and struggles to predict how they’ll be that day, hour, minute and second, which can be frustrating in and of itself.

We can blame this in part on psychological development.  There’s a little thing called identity that can be devious because the ‘tween’ or teen is in the throes of figuring out who they are.  Hence their tendency to don different clothes, hairstyles, way(s) of talking/acting etc.  It’s fluid and almost like watching theater in motion.

While this character is being built, the ‘tween’ or teen is also integrating the opinions of those closest to them as well as those from the outside world.  This integration can be experienced as arguing.  Yes, being argumentative is one of the key strategies that the ‘tween’ or teen utilizes to practice what is preached while exercising their own take on things.  Ironically, this potentially unpleasant endeavor is a terrific indicator that this young being is growing up!

Yes.  Remember you’re witnessing development in progress.  It’s not easy for these young folks to have thoughts and decisions about autonomy and other issues like sexuality, intimacy, peers…  And, do it in such a way that it pleases all involved.  Is that possible?  Can you imagine or remember the internal struggle of wanting to be an adult in a young person’s body?  If you’re being honest, sure you can.  And some probably want to forget about it.  Let’s face it, it’s uncomfortable and can make life seem disjointed.

The thing is, unfortunately for this group there are times when emotional readiness and chronological age may conflict.  So can expectations which can then become a source of tension.  What a conundrum!   So the frustration and angst underlying this growth process has to be channeled somewhere and that somewhere is usually directed at parents, which is normal, within reason.  I know…it’s not fair, especially if you hear that your young one is ‘angelic’ in other environments.  At least there might be some solace if s/he behaves the same way with others…maybe?

Ok.  Reality check time.  This circumstance warrants patience and future thinking.  Just know…the ‘tween’ or teen won’t always be that age.  ‘It too will pass.’  During this stage of development the trick is to use this opportunity to learn about your ‘tween’ or teen and vice versa.  And, to gently teach the other.  It’s a natural course of action for the young ones to get ready to leave the nest, get closer to friends and for it to present as a whirlwind.  It’s also customary that parents make their last ditch efforts to ready these adolescents for life but the notion of danger can heighten the protection factor which can further complicate this delicate relationship.

There’s a need for caution and a pause.  The ‘tween’ or teen can benefit from knowing that parents care about them a great deal and would love for them to be independent and safe but still be kind during this journey.  Parents could gain from remaining steadfast in their effort to ready the youth for success and being productive while remembering that this functional person is still forming, take things less personally and view it as an exercise of existence.  Neither is easy but is possible with a sprinkle of tolerance and support.

That support can be solicited in the form of a conversation with a spouse, friend, family member(s), school, church, etc. or extend into the professional realm like consulting with a therapist.  if the latter is chosen then you can reach out to your local mental health center or contact your insurance company for a list of therapists in your area.  No matter the path, it’s proven and wise for both parties to use their support network in the name of maintaining a healthy sense of well being and keeping sanity intact, no pun intended.