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NORFOLK - Teen years can be tough!

Modern adolescents are burdened by modern stresses: peer pressure, academic pressure, family changes such as divorce, family financial difficulties and increasing expectation to assume responsibility for personal decision making.

CHKD parent educator Sam Fabian has tips for raising teens.

Tip 1: Parents must be present and involved in their teens life

Regardless of what your teen says they want you to be present in their life. It may look like they are pushing you away but they are really hoping you will stay on the sidelines just in case they need you or need a safety net. Of course they will never admit it.

You may have to be the 'bad guy' in setting a reasonable curfew despite the common remarks or arguments 'you are not fair', 'all the other parents are letting their kids go'... but know they are craving for some structure.

Avoid saying 'no' the minute they ask you a question. Ask them a series of questions first to see if they have thought through the details of their request.

Tip 2: Understand the teen brain is still developing.

As in the toddler years the teen brain is rapidly growing again and teens need parent's guidance to help them make good decisions. A males brain doesn't fully develop until their 30s and for the females in their 20s.

The prefrontal cortex part of the brain that controls the judgment and organizational skills is 'asleep' and the emotional part of the brain, the limbic system is in overdrive.
-- Parents can assist their teen by reminding them about upcoming tasks and events and asking if they can help in any way. Organization can be a struggle for many teens.

Avoid statements like 'come on how old are you'- 'you should know better' and instead say 'how can I help you,' 'what is your plan to get the assignment done' or 'earn money so you can go on the ski trip.' These types of questions foster positive communication and build organizational skills.

Tip 3: Be compassionate, understanding and remember they need you.

Remember there are 4 universal tasks of adolescence- teens are trying to discover who they are and where they fit in, the power of their minds and how to become independent.

The goals of parenting a teen are to enjoy them, protect them, allow and help them to be independent and nurture a healthy relationship into their adulthood.

To learn more about raising teens, you can attend the free class 'Yes, Your Teen is Crazy: on Thursday November 15th from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Larkspur Middle School, 4696 Princess Anne Road in Va. Beach. The guest is author and psychologist Dr. Michael Bradley, who'll talk more about the teen's developing brain and the '10 commandments of Parenting' teens.

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