Changes In Affection
Youre like in front of your friends, I mean, you get like embarrassed and stuff Ben, age 10
Research shows a main root of the tension between adolescents and their parents is the struggle kids feel between a need to stay close and a desire to show independence from mom and dad. No where is that more evident than on the physical level, where parents must adapt to the changing attitudes a child feels about the outward displays of affection. A parent who misreads their childs signals risks either harming their relationship or their childs self-esteem.
Ten-year-old Ben talks about a kiss from his parents, Youre like in front of your friends, I mean, you get like embarrassed and stuff and like I said before, theyll start calling you names.
Experts agree, while adolescents, especially boys, need extra physical space during those awkward years, its a delicate balance. By not respecting this personal space, the parent risks damaging the childs self-esteem, but backing off too much, too soon can also cause a problem.
And the risk is the child may feel abandoned as it were…The child can get confused if the back-off is sudden, states Psychologist Dr. Janet Franzoni.
Parents should read their child carefully and try to find a balance that works for both parties.
What Parents Should Know
Its called PDS – or Parental Dread Syndrome and its best defined as parents pulling away from their teenagers because they are somewhat fearful of their problems. Its also a common reaction to parents dealing with kids who are struggling with newfound independence.
But experts agree that parents need to realize that no matter how grown up their children seem, they are still their kids. They are struggling with peer pressure and media images and they need the open communication that comes from a willing parent.
Is there a delicate balance of allowing kids their own space? Absolutely. And striking that balance can be a difficult job for most parents because of the risk of coming off as indifferent. But a parent that backs off too much can is at risk of having their child feel alone, and, in turn, the child may withdraw, according to Psychologist Dr. Janet Franzoni.
As kids approach early adolescence and their late teens, its important for parents to understand that its normal for their child to stubbornly resist their parents point of view. They are developing their own ideas and value systems. But its the open communication from a parent that will make the difference.
Stages of Adolescence
To understand how your child is changing, you may want to know the three stages of adolescence:
Early Adolescence 13-14: Your child may question his or her old beliefs and you as a parent.
Middle Adolescence 15-17 : Recognition that the parental opinion not necessarily the final world.
Late Adolescence 18-21 : Able to view parental opinions as acceptable and feel confident in their own opinions
Parents of adolescents are frequently frustrated or concerned that their child has stopped confiding in them for advice. However, studies indicate that adolescents will naturally turn to their peers for comfort peers who often share the same interests and value systems. Its a natural part of growing up that this new level of friendship intimacy supplements the intimacy of a close family member.
Experts tell us that kids seek approval from adults and therefore are less inclined to reveal things because they fear being looked upon as childish. So does this mean parents should back off? Not at all, states Psychologist Janet Franzoni. Just understand this new dynamic and be careful to give your child the space she needs.
Bright Futures Website: www.brightfutures.org/index.html
For general information of adolescent development and psychology: www.wm.edu/education