Sometimes You Have to Be Your Own Hero. Here’s How

Adolescence can be fraught with difficult friendships and difficult people. Sometimes you’ll need to be your own hero – but that’s okay because you are brave, brilliant and you have everything you need to do that. 

Transcript

During adolescence you might feel a real pull to experiment with your independence from your family. That doesn’t mean you wont’ need your family – you’ll always need them, but you will be looking at who you are as an independent adult, and you’ll start experimenting with that and exploring that. As you do that, you might start to feel the need to start looking for connections with a peer tribe. Social connection during adolescence feels really important, but it doesn’t always happen smoothly. Sometimes those friendships can be fraught with heartache, sadness, anger or grief.

During adolescence you’ll be confronted with all sorts of challenges – and peer challenges can feel like some of the worst. You won’t even realise how strong or brave you’re being at the time because it will just feel normal. But through this, you will discover your own resilience and resourcefulness.

What you need to remember is to take care of you. By that I mean inside all of us a small child – that part of us that just wants to be loved, reassured, nurtured and feel safe and secure. When friendships are tough, if you’re being teased or bullied, or finding yourself in these friendships that don’t make any sense and seem to change from one day to the next, try to keep that part of you safe and solid. Look after that small child in you. It needs to feel safe and protected.

It’s one thing for bullies or people who don’t understand you to give you the messages that they’re giving you. Be really careful about picking up where those people leave off. You wouldn’t hurt a small child. You wouldn’t tell a small child that they’re fat or ugly or stupid. You wouldn’t tell a small child that they don’t deserve friends, or that there’s something wrong with them. You are brave and strong and resilient. Own that.

Of course you get sad sometimes or exhausted, and of course you just wish sometimes it would be easier. It will get to that. People change. People grow up. But until then, there’s a part of you that really needs to feel the security of you, and that self-love, and that self-compassion. Because adolescence can be hard and sometimes they only way through is straight through the middle – and you’re doing that. In the meantime, keep that part of you safe – the curious, generous, exciting, resilient, part of you that looks at the world with an open heart and an open mind and is able to embrace things. Don’t let other people change you. Take that small child in you, and love it, nurture it, and be kind and gentle with it – because it will be an important part of the healthy, amazing adult that you will be one day.

 

 


 

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During adolescence, our teens are more likely to pay attention to the positives of a situation over the negatives. This can be a great thing. The courage that comes from this will help them try new things, explore their independence, and learn the things they need to learn to be happy, healthy adults. But it can also land them in bucketloads of trouble. 

Here’s the thing. Our teens don’t want to do the wrong thing and they don’t want to go behind our backs, but they also don’t want to be controlled by us, or have any sense that we might be stifling their way towards independence. The cold truth of it all is that if they want something badly enough, and if they feel as though we are intruding or that we are making arbitrary decisions just because we can, or that we don’t get how important something is to them, they have the will, the smarts and the means to do it with or without or approval. 

So what do we do? Of course we don’t want to say ‘yes’ to everything, so our job becomes one of influence over control. To keep them as safe as we can, rather than saying ‘no’ (which they might ignore anyway) we want to engage their prefrontal cortex (thinking brain) so they can be more considered in their decision making. 

Our teens are very capable of making good decisions, but because the rational, logical, thinking prefrontal cortex won’t be fully online until their 20s (closer to 30 in boys), we need to wake it up and bring it to the decision party whenever we can. 

Do this by first softening the landing:
‘I can see how important this is for you. You really want to be with your friends. I absolutely get that.’
Then, gently bring that thinking brain to the table:
‘It sounds as though there’s so much to love in this for you. I don’t want to get in your way but I need to know you’ve thought about the risks and planned for them. What are some things that could go wrong?’
Then, we really make the prefrontal cortex kick up a gear by engaging its problem solving capacities:
‘What’s the plan if that happens.’
Remember, during adolescence we switch from managers to consultants. Assume a leadership presence, but in a way that is warm, loving, and collaborative.♥️
Big feelings and big behaviour are a call for us to come closer. They won’t always feel like that, but they are. Not ‘closer’ in an intrusive ‘I need you to stop this’ way, but closer in a ‘I’ve got you, I can handle all of you’ kind of way - no judgement, no need for you to be different - I’m just going to make space for this feeling to find its way through. 

Our kids and teens are no different to us. When we have feelings that fill us to overloaded, the last thing we need is someone telling us that it’s not the way to behave, or to calm down, or that we’re unbearable when we’re like this. Nup. What we need, and what they need, is a safe place to find our out breath, to let the energy connected to that feeling move through us and out of us so we can rest. 
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But how? First, don’t take big feelings personally. They aren’t a reflection on you, your parenting, or your child. Big feelings have wisdom contained in them about what’s needed more, or less, or what feels intolerable right now. Sometimes it might be as basic as a sleep or food. Maybe more power, influence, independence, or connection with you. Maybe there’s too much stress and it’s hitting their ceiling and ricocheting off their edges. Like all wisdom, it doesn’t always find a gentle way through. That’s okay, that will come. Our kids can’t learn to manage big feelings, or respect the wisdom embodied in those big feelings if they don’t have experience with big feelings. 
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We also need to make sure we are responding to them in the moment, not a fear or an inherited ‘should’ of our own. These are the messages we swallowed whole at some point - ‘happy kids should never get sad or angry’, ‘kids should always behave,’ ‘I should be able to protect my kids from feeling bad,’ ‘big feelings are bad feelings’, ‘bad behaviour means bad kids, which means bad parents.’ All these shoulds are feisty show ponies that assume more ‘rightness’ than they deserve. They are usually historic, and when we really examine them, they’re also irrelevant.
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Finally, try not to let the symptoms of big feelings disrupt the connection. Then, when calm comes, we will have the influence we need for the conversations that matter.
"Be patient. We don’t know what we want to do or who we want to be. That feels really bad sometimes. Just keep reminding us that it’s okay that we don’t have it all figured out yet, and maybe remind yourself sometimes too."
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 #parentingteens #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #parenting #neuronurtured #braindevelopment #adolescence  #neurodevelopment #parentingteens
Would you be more likely to take advice from someone who listened to you first, or someone who insisted they knew best and worked hard to convince you? Our teens are just like us. If we want them to consider our advice and be open to our influence, making sure they feel heard is so important. Being right doesn't count for much at all if we aren't being heard.
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Hear what they think, what they want, why they think they're right, and why it’s important to them. Sometimes we'll want to change our mind, and sometimes we'll want to stand firm. When they feel fully heard, it’s more likely that they’ll be able to trust that our decisions or advice are given fully informed and with all of their needs considered. And we all need that.
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 #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #childdevelopment #adolescence 
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"We’re pretty sure that when you say no to something it’s because you don’t understand why it’s so important to us. Of course you’ll need to say 'no' sometimes, and if you do, let us know that you understand the importance of whatever it is we’re asking for. It will make your ‘no’ much easier to accept. We need to know that you get it. Listen to what we have to say and ask questions to understand, not to prove us wrong. We’re not trying to control you or manipulate you. Some things might not seem important to you but if we’re asking, they’re really important to us.❤️" 
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#neurodevelopment #neuronurtured #childdevelopment #parenting #positiveparenting #mindfulparenting

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