Tweenagers and Teenagers—The Practical Side
“Just wait until they are a teenager!” Ever hear those words in conversation? I hear these words often in my neighborhood and in social circles and I have to admit this comment always makes my insides twitch just a little.
Maybe it is the therapist in me, but I am profoundly aware of the fact that much of the time in life we extract from an experience what we are expecting. Our minds naturally look for data in our environment to support our preconceived notions and ignore other contrary data in that same environment. For example, if I go to a concert and already believe that the band will be too young or too old, too this or too that—I will usually find evidence to support my hypothesis versus if I went to the concert with an open mind.
If we already believe that teenagers will present as challenging or that our relationships with them will be difficult, this can set the stage for just that—challenging and difficult interactions. However, if we are enlightened about the teenage years and the years preceding them—what we now call the tween years—this makes our experiences with young people more likely to be engaging, rewarding and even peaceful. This means taking the time to remember and learn what it is like to be a teenager (because even though we all were teenagers at some point society is now different.) And it also means being intentional about our interactions and relationships with tweens and teens. I have said before that relationships are the most rewarding experience on the planet, but they also require work. Relationships with young people are no different.
I will speak more to being in relationships with tweens and teens in the personal blog on this piece, but for now your homework is twofold. First, spend some time thinking about what your life was like as a teenager—how you felt, how you looked, what was important to you. And second, honestly ask yourself if you have negative views of this age group and why.
If you are a young person struggling with this rewarding AND challenging season of life, speaking to a counselor can help you. Or, if you are the parent of a tween/teen and think they need extra support or you want to improve your relationship with them, speaking to a licensed mental health counselor can assist you. At Life Enhancement Counseling Services we provide individual, couples and family counseling. Please contact us at 407-443-8862 today to schedule an appointment with one of our Orlando psychotherapists.