Have you heard the expression "little kids, little worries, grown kids, big worries"? If you haven't heard it before, this expression may come into its own when your darling child begins his or her teenage crisis.
When the children are small, and even more so when you are a single parent and have to manage everything alone, you can hope that adolescence will be a less tiring period.
The child has grown up, gained autonomy, which should give the sometimes exhausted single parents some (well-deserved) peace 🙂.
Yes, but now your child is entering adolescence. As your child enters this stage, you also become a parent of a teenager. Like any change, adolescence requires adjustments on both sides.
You must adjust your parenting, succeed in changing course to accompany your child in this transition to adulthood.
Sometimes things go smoothly (except for a few slammed doors 😁, or raised eyes to heaven 🙄). But more often than not - and this is quite natural - the teenage crisis causes misunderstandings, friction, opposition.
Communication can become complicated, with recurring conflicts tarnishing the parent-teen relationship. It is sometimes difficult, as a parent, to find the right balance between letting go and being firm.
Overwhelmed by the situation, you have trouble accepting that your child is growing up, or you no longer know how to help him or her.
We give you here some keys of understanding, and tracks to be supported, in order to cross this delicate period (but temporary!) with more serenity.
And because you shouldn't blame everything on a teenage crisis, we'll talk about the signs to watch out for, to avoid missing out on a real malaise.
Teenage crisis definition (to know what we are really talking about)
Adolescence is a stage of human development that begins at puberty and falls between childhood and adulthood. The term comes from the Latin "adolescere" which means "to grow up".
Puberty involves important biological changes. But also psychological, identity and social concerns. It is therefore a stage of profound transformations.
The expression "teenage crisis" is generally used to define all the "difficult" behaviors that arise during this period of life:
✅ opposition to parents
✅ mood swings
✅ extreme emotions
✅ risk taking
✅ need to cross boundaries
Changes are rapid and numerous for the adolescent, and facing the unknown can be disturbing and destabilizing. They lose their bearings, leave childhood behind, and must gradually succeed in taking charge of their lives, becoming responsible and autonomous.
This transition is sometimes violent and painful. He will therefore adapt as best he can to this change (and so will you!).
At what age does adolescence begin?
According to the WHO, adolescence is a period that extends from 10 to 19 years of age.
Adolescence in girls.
For girls, adolescence begins at puberty with the arrival of the first menstrual period. In recent years, this age tends to be earlier: the average age in France is 12 and a half, but it can range from 9 to 16 years.
Age of adolescence in boys
In boys, the first signs of puberty appear around 11/12 years: hair growth, growth spurt, voice moult.
What are the stages of adolescence?
Puberty causes hormonal upheavals and important physical changes: growth, development of organs and sexual characteristics, first menstruation.
But entering adolescence involves other transformations:
✅ rapid cognitive and psychological development
✅ emotional development
✅ intellectual and behavioral development
✅ social development
What are the signs of a teenage crisis?
If your child is going through a teenage crisis, more or less intense, you should notice it quite quickly!
Teenage crisis? Some clues:
😡 sudden tantrums, for reasons that may seem insignificant to you
😬 need to assert themselves, even break the rules
😈 opposition, "rejection" of parents
💅🏼 great attention paid to his appearance (or on the contrary neglect of hygiene sometimes in some boys)
🍔 a form of regression therefore, in terms of hygiene or food (eating any way, not having a schedule,..)
😞 sadness, anxiety, isolation
👊 in boys, aggressiveness can manifest itself (and in extreme cases translate into acting out: fighting, running away, skipping classes)
😶 eating disorders, most often in girls
🙇♂️ loss of interest in old passions, possible addictions to new activities (video games, phone...)
Don't panic though, these behaviors are of course variable from one teenager to another, more or less marked, or even absent.
Parent-teen conflict: tools and tips for overcoming the teen crisis 🤦♂️🤦♀️ 💔
Becoming a parent of a teenager is a delicate switch in terms of education. Until now, you had to protect, feed, care for, comfort, educate and take care of a little being who didn't have the capacity to do it himself.
A strong bond has been created and you may still feel indispensable, and THE reference for your child.
💗 How then to serenely handle being questioned, pushed around, sometimes rejected?
How can you avoid taking everything personally, understand that your teenager needs freedom, but also limits? How to manage permanent conflicts, a refusal of authority, a teenage crisis that is growing?
It is important to understand that in order to grow up, the teenager undergoes two opposing movements: maintaining the link with his parent, while at the same time freeing himself from it. We do not promise you "magic tools" that will instantly restore the balance in your home.
But some tips, which can help you take a step back and de-dramatize (you are not alone 😌) :
How to manage the teenage crisis?
One could compare the needs of a teenager to this image: imagine the teenager walking towards the unknown, on a road suspended above the void.
This road has no barriers. In order to move forward, and grow, it needs guardrails that delimit the path, and prevent it from falling...
While you have to agree to respect your child's need for freedom and privacy as they grow up, you also have to provide that gatekeeper role (sometimes against all odds). Even if your teen denies it, they also need it (but also need to reject it 🙃).
✅. Try humor to defuse the start of a conflict.
✅. Lay out a framework together, unbreakable rules (e.g. not putting yourself in danger, always giving notice of lateness, having satisfactory school results,...).
Respecting these rules allows for other moments of freedom, and transgressing them for appropriate sanctions.
✅. On your end respect your son or daughter's need for privacy, sometimes isolation.
✅. Put up with having the bad role: it's for her own good, and your teen won't love you any less.
✅. Do not minimize your difficulties under the guise of adolescence.
✅. Invent other moments of closeness, activities that could bring you closer: sports, movies, series, cultural activities, travel...
✅. Make yourself available if your teen seeks your help or advice, but avoid being intrusive.
Enforce your own needs as well.
Parents of teenagers: how to help a teenager?
Even if his provocations, his demands (or his outfits!) sometimes annoy you, deep down you would like to know how to accompany your teenager at best.
Help him grow up, get organized, find his way, manage his emotions, have confidence in himself and love himself. If possible, avoid that each discussion turns into a clash, without repeating 100 times the same sentences, without damaging your parent-child relationship.
If there is no ready-made recipe, and if each situation is unique, certain postures can nevertheless help calm things down.
In particular, it is essential to be kind to your teenager, to avoid teasing that can hurt, to listen and to encourage.
Even if it sometimes becomes heated, communication is essential to maintain a bond of mutual trust and respect.
The relationship must therefore change: even if you remain a parent figure, you will probably have to learn to impose less and negotiate more.
Excessive authority, because you are afraid of "losing your grip" or because you don't know how to react otherwise, may cause the teenager to become overly angry, leading to a sterile and exhausting escalation.
You can also talk to her about your own adolescence, and thus suggest that even if things are different, you can hear and understand her confusion. Finally, assure her of your unconditional love (which doesn't exclude respecting certain limits 😉 ).
Difficult adolescence: what solutions?
While many teenage crises go well, this period in your child's development can be complicated.
Some teenagers experience great psychological vulnerability, which can put them at risk.
No one is infallible, of course, and you are not responsible for all your teen's difficulties. But your role as a parent may be to be alert to signs of real distress:
⭕ significant or abrupt decline in school performance
⭕ consistent weight gain or loss
⭕ eating disorders: anorexia, bulimia
⭕ strong addiction to screens coupled with isolation
⭕ frequent anxiety attacks
⭕ alcohol and/or drug use
⭕ risky behavior (running away, sexuality, theft)
⭕ constant sadness, suicidal ideation
⭕ school bullying
👉 If you see that your teen is having a very difficult time, and you feel helpless to help, don't hesitate to ask for help from a third party.
There is no point in letting the situation deteriorate and hoping that things will improve on their own.
If you have concerns about your teen's physical or psychological safety, or "just" if daily life has become unbearable, there are options to help you.
- If you have the opportunity, using another family member or friend with whom your teenager feels comfortable can help him or her confide in you.
- The support of a professional, such as a doctor or psychologist, can also be very helpful.
- The Teenagers' Houses have been specially designed to accompany adolescents who feel the need. They can consult a psychologist, alone or accompanied, in complete confidentiality. They can also get information about sexuality or drug prevention.
- The CMPs, present in each department, also provide long-term follow-up by psychiatrists or psychologists. Depending on where you live, the delays can unfortunately be significant.
- The site sonantejeunes.com concentrates advice and guidance on all topics related to adolescence.
- The national toll-free number 3134
In case of psychological distress, health professionals trained to prevent suicidal risk are available to listen.
- The French Federation of Anorexia and Bulimia
At 0810 037 037.
Consult an online psychologist or parenting coach to manage the teenage crisis
Noö Family is a platform that has been designed by and for single parents.
👉 Our mission?
To provide practical help to single moms and single dads on a daily basis.
👉 What kind of help?
Noö Family allows you to book a session online with a professional :
- In 1 click
- Without delay
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- At your convenience: from 7am to 11pm, Monday to Saturday
- At an affordable price
👉 The plus that makes the difference:
75% of our experts are familiar with the specificities of single parenthood, because they have experienced this situation themselves.
In the case of the teenage crisis, you may be confronted with specific problems, for example:
- My teenager is threatening to go live full-time with his or her father (or mother)
- My ex-spouse does not apply the same parenting principles
If you need help, advice, concrete solutions quickly, you can book a session by phone or video now:
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