There is a reason your teen making bad or questionable decisions is the (unfortunate) norm in the adolescent years. But don’t worry! It’s just a phase.
Hormones are Surging
Along with changing bodies come changing hormones, which play a large role in what teens are feeling.
“All of these new hormones can also contribute to a lack of impulse control,” says Nikita Banks, LCSW, a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Brooklyn. “Think about all that your teen is juggling. She is both trying to figure out who she is as an individual and find her place in society, which is a very big transition. To do this, she may pull away or test the values of her family and adapt behaviors that will be seen as more desirable to her peer group. When you put all of these factors together it can make for one wild ride.”
With this surge in independence, teens may push the envelope to see how far they can push you.
“The goal you hope for as a parent is for your teen to ultimately end up in the middle where he takes appropriate risks but uses caution and prudence when indicated,” Dr. Sandler says. “It does take time for the two extremes to settle down in the middle, as is often the case in life.”
What You Can Do
Given all of this change, keeping the lines of communication open with your teen is very important—especially when he makes bad or questionable choices. Plan regular outings together or eat meals as a family to bridge the gaps and enable everyone to feel heard.
“This time together is very important, and it serves another purpose, too. It’s actually a really good way to get an inside view of what is going on in their life,” Banks says. “Your goal should be twofold: You want to monitor their social interactions with friends to the best of your ability, but also give your child a voice.”
After all, any strong connection you can keep with your teen is crucial and will help ease the very important transition she is moving through.
“When teens feel that they are not only seen but heard at home, it helps them develop a greater sense of self-esteem,” Banks adds. “It also provides a strong foundation for them to be able to withstand the social pressures of this time of life.”