Welcome to my stop on The Kid Calmer blog tour, with a guest post from the author, Richard Daniel Curtis.
Too Cool for You – How to deal with your teenage child wanting to separate from you
By Richard Daniel Curtis
The Kid Calmer and author of The Parent’s Guide to the Modern World
It was bound to happen sooner or later, but you weren’t expecting it this soon, your child is about to reject you because you’re not cool enough. You may think they’re growing up too fast, but in their mind you are holding them back. It’s something that happens to most parents and carers of teenagers at some time or another, but it’s not your fault…
Let me tell you a bit about what’s happening in the brain to begin with. Prior to puberty the brain develops millions of new neurons in the grey matter surrounding the brain. During puberty, the wiring of these means that the frontal lobes are shut down. This is important, as this region of the brain, particularly the prefrontal cortex, is the part that holds your personality, your judgement skills, your behaviour, your social skills, ability to use expressive language – the things you see many teenagers lacking. That’s all down to this rewiring, but in terms of personality you may notice the same loss, some teenagers respond to everything as threats during this time and withdraw from those around them. Very often they’re desperate to belong to groups and so do what they can to survive and be part of the social circle – this will often result in a pulling away from parents.
As the teenage brain moves out of puberty, the wiring process moves on a stage to reopen the frontal lobes and strengthen the new connections. Often you will see a learning spurt and the return of your former child. This is also the time when, for the first time in their lives, they develop their own values and beliefs independent of the role models in their lives. Now is commonly the time when young people want to distance themselves from their parents.
There are a few things to consider your child will need:
- Closing the door, without closing the door – a teenager will be desperate to separate from their parents and establish their own identity, whilst also feeling a need to secure that connection with them long term.
- Academic expectations – the progression after leaving school is no longer straight and certainly very different than at any other time, for example it is now possible to do a degree-level apprenticeship without attending university. Your child may feel overwhelmed or confused by the possibilities.
- Sorting out social media separation – many young people say they want their parents to remove certain images of them, they will often want to establish their own social media identity and that may involve not being connected to their parents.
- Household expectations – the average age for moving out of home is in the late twenties, young adults will commonly expect to remain living with their parents until then. Your child may need help adjusting to the increased expectations of choosing to live somewhere (for example, contributing towards the bills, household tasks, responsibly for their own washing…).
- Getting around – many young people no longer see the need for a driving licence, so there are an increasing number using public transport or their parents to get around.
There are 5 key stages to reforming this new relationship with your child and helping them to ‘Ditch the Parents’:
- Ensuring that you move from the disciplinarian to the life coach role – take time out as parents;
- Understanding the physical changes in their brains and how that contributes to your child’s actions – help them to understand the changes going on too;
- Encourage each other’s health habits (physical, mental and financial health), support each other and know each other’s goals – make the transition to adulthood more of a partnership where you are mentoring them to achieve what they want to achieve;
- Understanding your own values and where they came from, explaining the history to your child – this will help your child to make their choices about their own adult belief system;
- Asking your child what social media line they want (even if it means hiding the really cute pictures of them from the public so only you can see them) – let them be in the driver seat of your social media separation.
You want them to be in a position during adulthood to want you in their social lives, rather than trying to avoid you. More immediately you want to be their shoulder to cry on and the best mentor money can buy to help them with their social lives. This is only done by keeping a sense of trust in your relationship, be too distant – your teen won’t trust you, be too clingy – your teen won’t trust you. To properly navigate where that line is, I would encourage you to be talking about these 5 issues from early adolescence. This enables both you and your child to have a clear agreement of how to handle the “I’m too cool for you stage”…
About the book
The world is so different than when we grew up, young people nowadays have different expectations about life and use so much technology. It’s no wonder we feel overwhelmed at times. Even things that were simple have got more complicated, issues like gender identity or sex. It’s hard to know where to start with technology, every time you feel you have a grip on what your child is into, they talk about something else you’ve never heard of.
Life as a parent is overwhelming!
The Parent’s Guide to the Modern World gives you the answers to the worries you haven’t even realised you have. Starting with a section on how your child’s brain develops and explaining why their personality changes so much during puberty. It even helps you to structure any difficult conversations you need to have with your teen or soon to be teen.
The book then goes through over thirty different aspects of the modern world, telling you about the risks associated with each, plus the dos and don’ts for you as parents. Following this, part three focusses on the predictions for the world your child will be an adult in; helping you to understand the things you can do now to give them the best chances in life. Finally, the book contains a handy glossary of terms your young person might be using.
Worried about how to help your child understand these risks? Why not buy them the sister book The Young Person’s Guide to the Modern World.
About Richard Daniel Curtis
Based in Southampton with his partner and their young son, Richard Daniel Curtis is an internationally renowned behaviour expert and futurist passionate about helping people understand mindset and psychology. A former teacher, and mental health support worker, Richard is known for his impact with turning round some of the most extreme behaviours and is consulted about adults and children around the globe, even having two assessments named after him. He has founded The Root of It -an organisation of qualified professionals available to support schools and individuals with behavioural difficulties- for which he was awarded the Gold Scoot Headline Award in 2015 and Best New Business in 2014. Most recently he launched The Mentoring School to train the psychology related to mentoring people of all ages. For his work and expertise he has been interviewed for the BBC,ITV and Sky News TV and various international print media and radio. His previous titles include: 101 Tips for Parents, 101 More Tips for Parents and 101 Behaviour Tips for Parents (2014) and Gratitude at Home (2016).