Overcome the adolescent crisis


Key ideas

  • Set the correct distance. It is important for a teenager to separate from their parents in order to realize their strengths.
  • Leave to return. With the experience of independence, he gets the opportunity to communicate with adults on a new level – without pretensions and offenses.
  • Complete the transition. It’s not too late to become (really) an adult … at any age.

The impossibility of dialogue, provocative behavior, rudeness … Is adolescence always so painful? How might he look normal? And what traces of past experiences do many of us still bear?

Psychologies: What does everyone move from to when they transition?

Marina Bebchuk: From childhood to adulthood. From the child’s essence, the child’s expectations and requirements to adult life – with a different responsibility, different possibilities. At this time, it is also called “pubertal”, and adult sexuality is born – everything changes: the body, emotional manifestations, way of thinking, needs and behavior. A person will never be the same again.

Is the transition period associated with the crisis for everyone?

Quite often, these changes take place calmly, without a crisis in relations with parents. And the word “crisis” itself is translated from Greek (krisis) as a decision, a turning point, an outcome.

The main thing for a teenager at this time is an independent introduction to the world of adults, which he can achieve only through opposing himself to his parents. It is important for him to feel autonomous and equal with them, but at the same time he really needs the support and recognition of his elders. The difficulty for a teenager is, on the one hand, to find and establish the correct distance from his parents, and on the other, to test his own capabilities.

Teenage anger is a form of addiction, a manifestation of incomplete separation from parents

It is possible to avoid misunderstanding and confrontation if the family gradually adapts to the new situation and the parents go to meet the teenager, changing the previous rules: the child is allowed to listen to the music he wants, sometimes to lock himself in a room, rearrange furniture there, manage pocket money on his own, in some cases not spend the night at home. This allows the teenager to feel more confident and contributes to his separation from his parents – separation.

In my opinion, serious conflicts at this time often speak of long-standing disagreements (usually between parents) that relate directly to the child’s transition period.

How long has this been going on?

A teenager, or teenager (from the English teenager), is a young person between the ages of 13 and 19, since the names of these numbers end in -teen. Russian psychologists consider those who are 11 (12) -15 (16) years old to be adolescents. It should be noted that in the conditions of modern big cities, where children come into contact with high technologies very early, the transition period can begin earlier, as early as 10 years old, and end later – at the student age. The pubertal process is associated with physiological changes in the body, and they occur in different children (even siblings) at different times, in particular, among the southern peoples earlier than among the northern ones.

So, conflicts with parents may not be an indispensable stage of growing up?

Sure. Children’s attachment to their parents, which gives them a sense of security, naturally translates into distance as the teenager has a variety of interests. Many people remember the transitional age with gratitude to their parents for their trust and patience. For the fact that they did not give reason to doubt their love.

Teenage anger is a form of addiction, a manifestation of incomplete separation from parents. Irritation, anger or even hatred at this age is a manifestation of longing for love, hope for love and lack of freedom in the manifestation of love. Teens may be afraid: am I needed, not rejected, not betrayed if I trust my parents? What if they abuse my trust, use it against me or my friends?

If such fears are confirmed at least once, the adolescent involuntarily increases the distance, and the parents, feeling that they are “losing” the child, increase control, provoking him to further distance, instead of looking for compromises.

In general, adolescence is a test of love. On the part of a teenager, it is often provocative: “And if I do this, will you accept me? Aha, accepted! And if I do this now, will you still love me? .. ”In some families, children have to make titanic efforts to be noticed, and they are ready to go to great lengths to achieve it …

It happens that a teenager avoids scandals, does not provoke his parents in any way, and generally behaves very quietly. How natural is this behavior?

It is quite natural if its cause is psychophysiological immaturity and infantilism, delayed puberty. The problem arises when a teenager is very attached to his parents and avoids separation from them, behaves as if going out into the “big world” is a danger for him. He is not ready to test his social possibilities, turn his face to the world, try to conquer it.

However, sometimes it is simply “not profitable” for a teenager to grow up if he unconsciously feels that he has a special role in the family. For example, he feels himself to be a link between his parents, a cement that holds his family together: if he leaves them, then everything will collapse.

Overcome the adolescent crisis

How would you describe a normal transitional crisis?

The development of a teenager with ups and downs and an adequate reaction to this of the family can be called normal. At times, a teenager feels uncomfortable, begins to study worse, may be sad because of unhappy love.

This is a period of conflicting desires: you want to do nothing and achieve success at the same time, have sex with many and at the same time maintain a special, exclusive relationship with someone one, the teenager wants to get rid of his parents, and at the same time he feels the need for them. Often, he wants to be independent just when he feels especially vulnerable.

Each family has its own boundaries and norms of relations – what is then important to pay attention to?

Parents should become concerned if the child does not develop intellectually, physically or socially for months.

Mild forms of problematic or often protesting behavior are a demonstration of new personality traits, a new style of behavior. Excess makeup, long or very short hair, torn jeans, loud music, posters on the walls, smoking, foul language, rudeness, rudeness … Extreme, sometimes dangerous forms of behavior are also well known: leaving home, refusing to study, all sorts of addictions – from gambling addiction to drug addiction, suicide attempts.

Why do some adolescents tend to behave destructively, to play with death?

When they put themselves in danger, they usually do not seek death as such. Suicide is a symbolic form of withdrawal, an attempt to break out of the family system, one of the forms of separation. With this step, the child says: since you didn’t give me more love, didn’t hear my cry for help (didn’t pay attention to my leaving home, didn’t change the rules in the family, didn’t notice that I had become different), then I will die.

For parents, the search for compromises is a matter of trusting a child, for a teenager it is a signal that he has a rear, where he will be accepted, understood

Often, only after a demonstrative suicide attempt in such a family, a dialogue takes place for the first time, the parents finally turn to the child: let’s sit down and talk, we want to know how you want to live, how you want us to live …

How to establish the correct distance between adults and adolescents?

Correct distance occurs when relationships with parents are not opposed to the life of a teenager outside the home, but coexists with it. His friends, love, activities interest adults, but this interest does not violate the boundaries of his personality.

It is not easy for parents to come to such a relationship, because adolescence exacerbates two fears: being abandoned by their own child and, conversely, becoming too dependent on him. Sometimes, afraid of losing contact with the teenager, parents begin to allow him a lot. But it becomes even more difficult for them to achieve understanding and obedience, as young people are more and more daring, go to provocations. However, insolence is not freedom. To endure it, like rudeness and rudeness, means in a sense to give up and leave the teenager a prisoner of his emotions, often cruel and contradictory.

What does it mean to become an adult

The transitional age is the moment when the child, who the person was, and the adult that he will become, converge. And since an adult is an incomplete personality, constantly in the process of formation and development, the time for “grinding” the inner child and the adult, in fact, does not end. Sometimes the transition period psychologically continues after puberty, when adults continue to behave like adolescents. If a person, due to a number of circumstances beyond his control, was forced to grow up too early, later he risks being at the mercy of the teenager whom he once had to suppress in himself.

We can say that we cease to be adolescents when we begin to regulate our relationships with loved ones, we live in harmony with them, without mutual resentment and tension. This is the model for any mature relationship: the ability to calmly establish the distance with other people that we need now. Some may not have such an opportunity for a long time: it depends on many factors, including our personal desire to become adults.

That is, a teenager needs restrictions and prohibitions?

He needs to face obstacles in order to assess his desires and capabilities. When there is no framework, the teenager easily puts himself in danger. He becomes a hostage to momentary desires, instead of learning to plan.

Parents are spiritually, physically, financially responsible for the health and life of the child, and they must set limits – this is a matter of safety and responsibility. The child must spend the night at home, or the parents must know exactly where he is in order to contact him at any time. If the child is simply confronted with a fact, he is likely to rebel, so it is better to coordinate the rules and sanctions with him, trying to come to a compromise.

Let’s say he wanted to come home at midnight, but usually came at eight in the evening: you can agree to return at 22.00. Everyone keeps their word and is responsible for their actions. For parents, the search for compromises is a matter of trusting the child; for a teenager, it is a signal that he has a home front, where he will always be accepted, understood, forgiven and helped. Whatever happens, he must feel that he is loved at home – anyone.

How can a family successfully complete the transition?

It is easier for parents to survive the separation of the child from the family, supporting and reassuring each other: do not worry, look how he (she) is already an adult … If the family is incomplete, you can rely on family and friends.

The transition period ends when we formulate the rules for the new stage of the life cycle and begin to follow them. It is ideal if children live separately from their parents, but they are happy to communicate with them when they feel the need for it.

About it

  • Robert Bayard, Jean Bayard. “Your troubled teenager.” Academic project, 2018.
  • Haim Zhinot. “Parents and Teenager”. Phoenix, 1997.
Marina Bebchuk

About the expert

Marina Bebchuk – an age psychologist.

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