Some of that ‘crazy’ behavior is just part of being a teenager

Published 12:35 pm Saturday, November 29, 2008

QUESTION: Our child is now really into her teen years. What happened to the sweet kid we were raising?

ANSWER: While we know that there are some great times and some especially challenging times with every age and stage of child development, it’s helpful to know that some of the “crazy” adolescent behavior is just part of being a teen. Here are adapted observations from the American Psychological Association:

– Teens can find arguing exciting. Arguments with you aren’t necessarily about winning, but rather about experiencing the “art” of an argument. Fun, isn’t it?

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– It’s all about them. You know the whole world isn’t focused on their zit, but they truly believe it is.

– Drama can be daily; Jenny has a fight with her boyfriend and it’s the end of the world. While it’s good for teens to… ahem… care deeply about so many things, the drama will decline as they grow up.

– As teens develop the capacity to think logically, they sometimes make leaps in judgment and come to bizarre conclusions. Resist the urge to immediately correct. Listen to what they are saying and let them think out loud. When the opportunity presents itself, share your perspective.

Before our children were 5 years old, our home was their whole perception of the world. By 6 years of age, our kids could start making comparisons: they recognize that at our house we eat peanut butter sandwiches and everybody is in bed by 9 p.m., while next door they eat sardines and fall asleep on the couch in front of the television. By the time kids are in their teens, they are able to think in terms of “the ideal” – and, guess what, as their parents we become very disappointing. Can we ever do anything right in the eyes of our teens? We can’t take it personally (even though we could do not wrong when they were very young), and this isn’t a sign of failure. It’s just a rather normal part of the mental development and the emotional need to separate from parents that is part of adolescence.

Yes, we really do a lot of things right. Just keep staying firm and friendly.

To talk with a parenting specialist about the challenges in child raising, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Lnea de Apoyo at 1-877-434-9528. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out

Maryanne Law is the executive director of the Parenting Resource Center in Austin.