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Helping Your Teenager Fly Safely From The Nest

As a parent of a teenager, are you struggling with wondering what happened to your cuddly baby who used to like you? Is your teen embarrassed to be seen with you, and acts as if you know nothing? Welcome to parenting a teenager.

The following tips will help you keep them CLOSE, keep you CALM, and EMPOWER them.

1) Teenagers go through a phase known as separation-individuation, which is similar to what an infant or toddler goes through. They need to develop their own identity, which means they need to separate from you (the parent) both physically and emotionally. So let them, encourage them to find themselves. Validate their experience, and the struggles that they are likely experiencing through this sometimes confusing time. This does not mean you stop connecting with them, and supervising them.

2) A close connection to family is also important to maintain for your teenager's healthy development. The fact that your teen is spending an increasing amount of time away from you will make maintaining a close bond a challenge. But, it's important to do so, your teen still needs your guidance and love. You can do this by letting your teenager know you care, support them, are trying to understand them, but are NOT trying to control them. By providing them with guidance and the ability to solve their own problems and make their own decisions, you are helping them more than if you just told them the 'right' thing to do.

3) Helping a teenager think through and process choices, and guiding them to make healthy ones, is not controlling them. Talk through their choices, helping them identify the pros and cons and the consequences of different decisions. When they make a mistake approach them with compassion, and an understanding that we all make mistakes. Help them understand, without judgment, why their choice was not such a great one. They will respect you more, be more apt to come to you to talk about their dilemmas, rather than trying to muddle through their problems by themselves.

If this phase is causing your teen and you more struggles than you can both handle, family counseling and individual counseling for your teen can make the world of difference during this difficult time.

All My Best,

Kendra Haluska, Psy. D.

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