Rearing Adolescents

The lesson today will deal with the years of a child’s life between 10-12 years of age. While not officially a teenager, you will start to find some behavior changes that you have never dealt with before in the life of the pre-teen child. This is the time of adolescence, and it will not be long before you are dealing with a full blown teenager in your home. Many times, these adolescence years can be as difficult and sometimes more difficult than even the teenage years. These years of your child’s life must be handled wisely.

The Adolescent years are years that are distressful for the parents

*Of course, these years have much distress for the adolescent, but we will first discuss the distress that you will come to encounter from time to time. Here are some things you will find distressful:

  1. An Occasional Air of Defiance
    • It would do you well to realize that this will happen to the best of children when they reach these years. It does not mean that you will raise a defiant teenager, but it means that the natural processes of being an adult are working in the life of your young child. You must understand why this defiance is showing and have a plan for dealing with it.
      • A look of defiance–“rolling” their eyes; “starring” at you when you talk with them; not looking at you when you talk with them, etc.
      • A word of defiance–talking while they are walking away from you; “muttering” so you can hear them, but not understand what they are saying; talking back to you after a direct command; having a choice word…”whatever”, “so what”, etc; having to have the last word… will not just say “okay”.
      • An act of defiance–walking away when you are talking with them; staying in their room; walking through the house as though you are not there; not coming when you call; slamming a door or throwing something down, etc.
    • Your response to defiance
      • Ignore it…….this will not solve it, but it will continue to grow.
      • Talk it out………sounds good, but they will not be in a “talking” mood.
      • Yell at them………now both of you are out of control.
      • Call them to yourself, have them stand in front of you and look you in they eyes…….in your eyes, there had better be a look of “you are not going to act that way and get away with it”…… verbalize what you have said with your eyes saying, “I love you, but I cannot and will not allow the conduct you have just exhibited to continue. If it continues, we will find ourselves in a confrontation, and I assure you, you will not win that confrontation.”
      • If it continues…………spank them. This is the last few years this will have to happen, but the embarrassment will be a greater deterrent than the pain of a spanking. You must act in a way that enforces your authority in the home.
  2. A Pulling Away From the Family
    • This does not mean that they do not love their family, but they are broadening their horizon by spending time with more of their “friends” than ever before. They will enjoy time at “Joey’s house” more than a family activity as this stage progresses. Here’s what you will notice:
      • A desire to be away from home at the house of a friend
      • A desire to go for rides on a bike for an hour or two.
      • A desire to of their “own” way at the shopping mall.
    • Your response to pulling away
      • Keep them under your “wing”……and raise emotionally immature teenagers
      • Have them invite their friends over to your home. This way they spend time with their friends, but at a home where you know what’s going on, and only inviting friends you approve of.
      • Let them go shopping on their own and meet you at a given place in 1 hour.

The adolescent years are years of distress for the adolescent

  1. They Are Searching to Find Their Own Identity
    • This is the time in their lives where they will be charting the course for their lives. If you are not careful, they may surround themselves with other adolescence that come from every which way of life (many of which would not be anyway close to a Christian lifestyle), if this is allowed, you should not be surprised when your child wants to be something that you would disapprove of.
      • They will always use their peers’ input in determining their own identity. (This is why it is essential to provide a GOOD youth group for your adolescent, because THEY will help mold them more than you during this time in their lives!) Remember that Children are Parent driven, but Adolescents and Teens are Peer driven. You must know the PEERS that your child is around. Ask them who their friends are.
      • They will constantly go through bouts of inferiority complexes where they do not feel like they “measure up” with others. (You need to keep reminding them of their good character traits: Don’t say, “But you’re pretty!” They will feel like that is not true. Say things like, “But you are a very responsible young lady”, “I am so proud of the great help you are around the home”, “you are such a great friend to others”, etc. **These comments emphasize their character, which really determines who you are!)
  2. They Are Struggling with Their Physical Appearance
    • It is during this most awkward time that their bodies start changing. They will be maturing. Some will mature early, some late, but all of them will see this as a distressful time of comparing themselves to their peers in physical development. They will try to enhance their appearance by their accessories.
      • They now want “brand name” items to wear. (Don’t “give in” to this, it will pass.)
      • They now want “too much” make-up, or wear different clothing styles. (YOU set the standard of what you think is appropriate, and let them work WITHIN your given boundaries.)
      • They will be very conscious of their appearance. They will feel too: short, tall, heavy, or thin. They will have their hair too thin, too thick, too straight, too curly; too many pimples, not enough muscles, teeth too crooked, skin too oily or too dry, feet too small or too big, warts, birthmarks, and they will be self-conscience about it all. (Don’t dismiss it as just a “teen” thing, it will be very distressful to them.)
    • Ways to help them:
      • Promote cleanliness
      • Instruct in hair care, make-up, color coordination, etc.
      • Teach them not to “run” after fads in clothes, etc.
      • Build up self-confidence in “who” your adolescent is, rather than what they “own.”
      • Help them establish good nutrition and an exercise program.
      • Look into getting teeth fixed within your budget, get a doctor to prescribe meds for pimples, help them with their diet, good food, less sugar, exercise program, anything you can help fix for them now will save them a lot of grief in their teen years, and beyond.
  3. They Will Feel Like No One Understands Them
    • Not only remind them that you were once an adolescent, but tell them of the struggles you went through during these difficult times. Times you were frustrated, times you cried, things you did right, and times you failed. All of this is to teach them that they are normal, even though they feel so different than everyone else. Always help them with their self-esteem. Build them up with your words. Praise them more than you correct them. With much prayer and following a plan, you will both survive these years!
Pastor Mutchler
Pastor Mutchler

Founding pastor of Grand View Baptist Church now serving as the Pastor to the Senior Citizens

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