Understanding the Normal Behaviors of your Teenager or as they prefer to be called your Young Adult
How can you tell when your teenager is displaying normal behavior like any other teenager or displaying abnormal behavior, becoming out of control and in danger of causing havoc to your home, or worse society?
When you are being faced with what appears to be abnormal behaviors from your teenager that seem almost outlandish and out of character, it is vital to be able to define what it perfectly normal and what is not for your personal sanity and the balance of your home life.
There are characteristics that all teenagers will display at some point. Even if they are lucky enough to avoid it until late teens, or actually skip it all together, they will eventually experience it. In adult terms we call it “Mid-life crisis” so we all go through this Martian stage at some point. It is all part of being human.
What are the normal behaviors?
- Taking risks and pushing the boundaries
Teenagers are constantly pushing boundaries and testing limits. This is part of them learning what their personal limits are. They will try alcohol, smoking, having sex and lots of other things. However the problem is that they are not mature enough to understand the possible consciences of their risk taking behavior. As the adult it is your job to educate them and attempt to keep them as safe as they are learning. Placing them in tight reigns may alienate them further and encourage even riskier behavior the moment the tight hold subsides.
Mood Swings and Temper Tantrums
Many teenagers are quite unpredictable. One moment they will be chirpy and singing with you in the kitchen, the next their world is falling apart and they are in floods of tears. This is perfectly normal; there are a lot of physical changes occurring within their bodies which is playing total havoc with their hormones. Try to be patient; this is a difficult stage because they are starting to grow up. Unfortunately the slamming, the banging, the shouting, screaming and swearing, the total elation with life one minute and the feelings of never being able to cope the next is a sure sign that growing up they are. I would always giggle to myself when a parent would say to me “I just wish they would grow up” to which I would always respond “That is exactly what they are doing, you just need to be a little bit more understanding”
- Non-cooperation and Defiance
It is inevitable that teenagers will start to challenge everything that is being asked of them. Not just in the home, but in school, and with authority. This is all part of them forming their own identify. Your teenagers will challenge you and rebel against you more than they will their friends. Remember it is vital for them to fit in with their peer groups, so would rather risk rejection from you, than go against their friends.
The trick is to not let this get out of hand by knowing when their defiance is quite harmless but insulting just the same or on the verge of causing themselves or others harm. Never forget your boundaries because if you as parents or care providers can’t instill them within the home the authorities will eventually have to step in.
Know that by allowing too much defiance you can give them too much leeway that may slip over to behavioral problems. But not giving them enough can also have the same detriment effect. This is a tough one, so you need to learn what battles to fight, what is really important and what is not, so you have the energy to really lay down the law if needed.
Peers and Conformity
Underneath your defiant teenager there is also a high level of insecurity and a scared little crying child that just wants to be loved. They will lack confidence in some area of their lives. Be this body consciousness, communication issues, academic standards, self-esteem issues or a combination of them all. The last thing they will want to do is stand out from the crowd and alienate themselves from their peers. This is where you will see sheep like behaviors that can be confusing and scary for parents and care providers.
The best way to deal with this one is to educate and trust that you have taught them enough to make the right decisions about the company they keep. And remember that their friends are the most important thing in these difficult years. Disrespecting their friends can act like a sweeping brush pushing them closer toward the negative influences that you probably would rather they did not bother with.
- Withdrawn and Quiet
This can be a hard but very normal characteristic for some parents and care providers to deal with. Your once very chatty child may suddenly become very uncommunicative and no longer want to engage in family activities. They would rather spend time in their bedroom alone, on the computer or mobile phone than sit and watch the television with you. Instead of feeling hurt know that this is just a phase and it will past.
Teenagers need a large amount of privacy to deal with all the changes that are occurring for them mentally, physically, emotionally and sexually. What they are feeling and experiencing is very abnormal for them. Try to leave them to their own devices with gentle encouragement to come out with you as a family.
All of the above are changes that you may be experiencing in your teenager. But remember you are the mature adult in the equation and have the ability to show them how to safely come out the other side.
Always bear in mind that this is a stage of development and it will eventually pass. Adolescence is a part of growing up and even though their behaviors and challenges may get you down. Remember that it is all very normal and they are in fact growing up and their behavior is your evidence.
Remember your loving caring child is still in there somewhere and in time you will meet them again. For the time being, it may be a good idea to look at and brush up on how you communicate so that your relationships will stand through these turbulent years.