Why Teenagers Need Space

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When a teenager storms into her room and slams the door, she is not simply being difficult. Teens need plenty of space to create the distance between themselves and their parents that to help establish their own identities. It can be tough for parents to see their sweet little child turn into a recluse, but it is a natural part of adolescence.

Autonomy

  • A teenager needs space to establish his adult identity and assert his independence. As a natural part of this process he is likely to push his parents away and show less interest in family outings and activities, according to author of "Understanding Your Teen: Ages 13 to 19," Christine Langlois, in Canadian Living online. As a teenager withdraws from his family, it is natural for his parents to feel rejected and concerned. It can be difficult to make sure a teen remains involved in family life when he shows no interest in it. The key is to keep the lines of communication open, and accept that his priorities are changing.

Privacy

  • It is common for teenagers to keep secrets from their parents, particularly in relation to their social life and romantic relationships. They may need space to deal with their emotions and adapt to new experiences before they are ready to share their feelings with their parents. Parents of teens should try to respect their increasing need for privacy, but this does not mean allowing them to lock themselves away in their room for hours on end. Remember it is your house, says Kate Kelly, author of "A Complete Idiot's Guide to Parenting a Teenager," which gives you the right to check in on your teenager every so often. Knock before you go into her room, and if you come across a diary, letters or other personal items, resist the temptation to investigate unless you have genuine concerns about your teen's safety.

Mood Swings

  • Arguments, tantrums and mood swings go hand in hand with the teenage years. It is normal for a teen to react irrationally to situations and altercations, and to move from emotional highs to lows within minutes. Sometimes the best way to deal with a teen's mood swings is to give him space to calm down, collect his thoughts and work out how he is going to deal with whatever is bothering him.

Staying Connected

  • Giving a teenager the space she needs is not the same as allowing a huge gulf to develop between parent and child. Staying connected to your teen means being aware of what is going on in her life without infringing on her privacy. Langlois suggests letting your teen know how much you care about her, providing her with direction and encouraging her to confide in you about any worries she has, while making sure she has plenty of space to do her own thing. If she feels secure in your relationship and feels she can talk to you honestly, she is more likely to develop into a confident, grounded adult.

References

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