Help! A Teen Monster has swallowed my sweet baby!!!
Holy Batman, I was not prepared for puberty. Yes, on some level, I knew we would have to go through this transition, but honestly, I had no idea (no matter how much I was warned) for the monster my teenager would become.
So, what are we as parents to do when our teens suddenly feel like something out of Mary Shelley’s Frankentein? Add some autism and SPD into the teenager hormones mix and it’s a recipe for disaster.
Here’s what got us through. And though we are not at the end of the tunnel, we can finally see the light!!!
They Can’t Help It
Their bodies have taken over their brains. Hormones are raging. Emotions are racing through their bodies at lightening speeds. All of their systems go hay wire, including sensory systems. Just imaging suddenly being six feet tall and getting used to these new limbs. They’re starting to look like adults, but they’re still very much children. When we don’t take this natural occurrence personally, it’s easier to witness.
You’re the Enemy
Yes, it sucks. But my teen monster turned on me. Instead of being my super sweet boy, he rolled his eyes, yelled at me, and yes, I became the enemy. Although he still wanted me to drive him around and get him food. As a parent you become:
- A combination of all of the above
All you can do is set boundaries and try not to engage the monster during a hormone explosion. Just set the Clearisil on the bathroom counter and go about your business. Or go to the spa. Whatever you need to get yourself through this transition.
While I say above not to engage, and this is coming from reading all the experts and going to a professional for advice, you HAVE TO PROTECT YOURSELF. Sometimes our children with special needs grow to be way bigger than us and puberty is a scary time if they’re aggressive. Physically protect yourself if needed, but also keep rules and lines that they can not cross. They don’t get to call you names (at least not to your face), and they don’t get to threaten you.
So, while we want them to gain independence and move out of the house someday – you also can’t be a door mat for them to trample on.
Keep them Active
Your teenager has a lot of chemicals flowing through their bodies. They need a release. They need physical exertion Don’t let them sit on the couch all day playing video games. Those hormones have to move. Take them to the gym for a boxing class. Or ride bikes. Find a soccer club. Anything that they will enjoy and MOVE. Do they absolutely hate everything exercise? Fine – get them moving with the X-box or Wii. There are plenty of dance games and sports games that get them moving – but make sure they don’t cheat by sitting and moving their arm!
If they’re in PE and have run a mile, don’t pressure them to do more. Find the balance that makes you both feel better.
Their bodies are changing. Hair is showing up where it’s never been before. Etc. Give them a book to read in private about what they can expect. There are books for every level of puberty and cognitive ability. Cater to their needs and educate them so that they know what is happening. It’s just cruel not to and leaves them extremely confused.
Wait It Out
When you’re in the thick of it, it feels like it’s never going to end. But it does. And when it does, or shows glimpses of easing off, you’ll be so relieved. Hold onto the fact that not all stages last forever. There are some milestones that we can’t get around and teenage puberty is one of them. Be there with open arms when the child in them shows up!
Teen Monster Need Love Too!
Some days in the midst of the storm my son would come over and hug me. Although he’d screamed at me just hours before, I squeezed him tight and assured him I loved him unconditionally. Phew, it was nice to see his sweet side if only for a second.
As always, times like these are easier when you have a friend going through the same thing, or has been through it. You can sit together and talk about how your teen is a monster, as if you’re the first and only parents to experience this phenomenon. Or maybe you can talk about your transition into an adult and how emotional you were! Come on parents, you were a teen monster once too!!!
The most helpful books for me as far as understanding my teenager and what is going on in his head is by far THE TEENAGE BRAIN by Frances E. Jensen, MD. It’s written by a neuroscientist and explains everything from brain development, hormones and brain chemicals, SLEEP, Drugs, Stress, and everything else you need to know. Honestly, I can not recommend this book enough. Best of luck to us ALL!