The innocent days of riding bikes, playing at the park and swimming at the pool abruptly came to a crashing halt. One morning, on the way to middle school, I noticed that my daughter had left her favorite hula hoop in our neighbor’s yard. She refused to pick it up convinced that it was not in our neighbor’s yard. Next thing you know, we were standing in the street measuring (and debating) the property line of our home (as if any of that mattered!).
Welcome to the world of adolescence! No matter how often we hear about or know not to engage in power struggles, we as parents will just sometimes bite. Adolescence can be a very trying time for kids and parents. There were times when my wife and I would look at each other and say, “Where did our daughter go?”
There are many theories about adolescence. Immaturity, raging hormones and brain development are all mentioned culprits for why our kids struggle with emotions, lack of responsibility, impulsivity and irrational thinking. However, many researchers are starting to view adolescence in a more comprehensive light. It is a time of great development and opportunities, an essential time of emotional intensity, social engagement, novelty seeking and creativity. Kids need to learn important tasks to aid them in becoming healthy adults. Managing emotions, learning how to socially connect, developing a belief in themselves and practicing ways to manage thoughts are all important lessons for teens.
Kids who face all these important developmental challenges while also going thru mental health issues may have problems compounded. Fortunately, we live in a time of better understanding about mental health. Kids can be educated about brain development, learn skills to help regulate emotions, learn ways to challenge negative thinking patterns and learn how living in a healthy manner helps reduce stress and improves the quality of their lives.
I’d like to say that hula hoop was placed gently into the garage. Truth be told, she hurled it so hard into the garage that it broke! But that’s a different story.