Puberty: Between freedom and consistency

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Puberty is a time that most parents experience with horror and adolescents with uncertainty. Both sides must learn to face up to conflicts and to keep the balance between borders and open spaces at this stage. Parents have to learn to let go at the same time and to give the children continued support.

Conflicts are necessary

But unlike most people, puberty is more than just a single crisis. As a phase of development and replacement, with growing awareness of the environment and adults, there are frequent - and especially necessary - conflicts. The relationship between parent and child is being redefined, with an uncertain outcome, but by no means hopeless. Only: there are no patent recipes, because as unique as the people are as children, so unique is their development to the adult.

Shelter in the cave

Annika is 13 years old. If you meet her occasionally on the street she looks grim. Her face is full of pimples, her hair is pitch black, and according to her mother, she is sitting in her gloomy room - a typical adolescent behavior.

One of the most well-known German educational experts, Jan-Uwe Rogge, likes to use the Hummer as an example to explain puberty: He is the only animal that goes through adolescence. With him first the meat grows and then only the tank. To survive, the lobster retreats into deep dark caves at the bottom of the sea. Meat and tanks grow here in the depths. And this example has a lot to do with Annika and other adolescents.

"An adolescent becomes thin-skinned between 10 and 13, vulnerable, loses the shell and, to survive, her lobster disappears into his lair, called a nursery, a nursery that is carefully sealed against the effects of oxygen from the outside. In the cave, the so-called scattering prevails. " Puberty comes from the Latin "pubertas" and means "manliness". This refers to the physical and mental development phase of the human being between childhood and adulthood.

In the case of girls, this is in our latitudes between the age of 10 and 18, and for boys between the ages of 12 and 20. This phase of life begins when the brain-gland sends a signal to the body to produce certain hormones. During puberty it comes to sexual maturity.

Arguing: Communication is difficult, but important

Daniel, almost 14, hates it when parents talk for hours about a topic. "The jarring is annoying, but if that were not, and I do not care and everything, that would not o.k." He describes the relationship with his parents, Hans and Ellen (both 46). They experience for the first time how their son will grow up. They fluctuate between anger and understanding, generosity and rigor, but they argue - or argue - with Daniel, showing themselves now and then to compromise. And every day they try again, with varying degrees of success, because only rarely Daniel sees the rules.

"Do not try to make it right for your adolescent, that's impossible," says Jan-Uwe Rogge. Because in order to become independent and self-reliant, the young people have to break away from the parents as the most important caregivers. This leads, for example, to demonstrated indifference, to the reduction of parents as useless or incompetent. Insubordination and rebellion against the previous norms occur and are regarded by psychologists as healthy and normal.

According to studies, a fifteen-minute quarrel with the mother occurs every 1.5 days for girls, six minutes every four days for boys. Strife, which should be especially clear to stressed parents, is required for replacement. Psychologists even argue that more conflict-less developments give cause for concern than conflict-rich ones. The task of the parents is to maintain their willingness to talk and thus offer support. Experts, incidentally, advise in the discussion to short and precise conversations without "word cascades" (Rogge), in which clear intentions should be formulated.

Set tightrope between boundaries and paternalism

Being able to quarrel with adults is also one of the many opportunities for development to explore boundaries. Educational scientists agree that borders, along with rules and agreements, are an absolute must at this stage - whether it be household help, set times of coming home, or tidying up. Excessive tolerance and lax rules also provide no basis for friction or strife, with the consequence that the adolescent is looking for other provocations, on the list of horror scenarios of many parents are then school failure, alcohol, drugs or smoking.

It sounds a bit old-fashioned, but rules and thus limits, provided that they have been realistic and agreed upon by all parties, provide orientation and support. The opposite of rules, however, are paternalism, punishments and prohibitions, to which the youth respond with defiance and even aggression - and parents achieve nothing.

The "magic bag" - dealing with rule violations

Easier said than done, parents say - rightly so. Because rule violations are common among adolescents. Ignoring them is risky, because then parents become implausible, limits lose their validity, border crossings increase. Consequences of rule violations must be known to the adolescent in any case, as in the example of the "magic bag".

In his book "Puberty - Letting Go and Halting" Jan-Uwe Rogge describes how a mother deals with the shoe-chaos of her pubescent sons: if the shoes are not removed after two requests, they disappear into a "magic sack", a simple sack , well hidden, for a week. This goes on until the sons have no shoes and need to go to school for stockings. Mind you, the mother was so consistent to get through this and in the end gained insight into that one point.

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