The cliché of slovenly and unreasonable teenagers embodied by Harry Enfield’s Kevin is, to quote the character himself, “so unfair”. Teens are simply misunderstood, and parents and guardians need to treat them with more respect and more compassion. So says Danish psychotherapist Iben Dissing Sandahl, author of the new parenting guide The Danish Way of Raising Teens.
Issing Sandahl, who previously wrote The Danish way of education, outlines her home country’s core parenting values and claims they can help lay “the foundation for raising the world’s happiest, healthiest, and best-adjusted teenagers.” It’s a bold statement.
But then there are countless studies showing that the Danes are among the happiest people in the world, right behind the Finns. Perhaps it follows that her teenagers are just as happy as Larry.
Also, there are many elements of child rearing that the Scandinavian countries seem to have a better handle on than we do; barrier-free childcare and subsidized parental leave, for example.
Dissing Sandahl knows a lot about this phase of parenthood; she is the mother of Ida (21) and Julie (18).
“I’ve been there myself and seen the challenges and benefits first-hand,” she says. “It feels very present to me.”
First of all, she thinks we should judge teenagers less and stop assuming the worst of them. Lazy stereotypes are limiting, rejecting teens’ lived experience and can stifle personal growth, she says.
“They are still learning and developing. It’s not that easy to thrive when you’re labeled negatively,” she says. “I do not like it. I don’t think it’s fair.”
Adolescence is a tremendous state of change and a time of significant hormonal, mental, emotional and physical changes. Parents need to be aware of how destabilizing and unnerving this time can be for their children and how hurtful it can be to “label” the behavior.
She believes negative prejudice can make parents more nervous or anxious as they enter this stage of parenthood.
Dissing Sandahl wants to “put the teenage years in perspective so parents can look forward to entering that stage with their children.” She says this is an exciting and stimulating time; A people should embrace rather than fear or worry.
As part of reshaping the teenage years, parents should stop assuming that teens having severe mood swings, or challenging them, is some kind of personal attack.
“As a parent, you should never take their behavior as a sign that they want to be separated from you. On the contrary,” says Dissing Sandahl. “Those mood swings that oscillate between the dependencies of childhood and the responsibilities of adulthood can be challenging … but they’re an innate part of growing up.”
Author and journalist Caitlin Moran once wrote, “The problem with raising strong, smart, feminist daughters who are great at fighting, is the first person they train on being strong, smart, fighting feminists, which is you.” .”
The arguments and the rejections are signs of a healthy cognitive and mental development. That doesn’t make it any less annoying, but it’s worth remembering that teens find their own voice and figure out who they are by testing boundaries. This behavior is normal.
Knowing this can also prevent parents from becoming too emotionally charged during an argument.
“It makes it easier for us parents to say, ‘Hey, that’s just a natural part. I stand firm and stand by your side even when you say many things I don’t really want you to say.
That doesn’t mean your teens are trampling on you. It’s important to stand firm and maintain boundaries while staying calm. Later, when everyone has calmed down, you can explain why their behavior was inappropriate.
“Young people need boundaries that we set. And when we set boundaries, we create a predictable environment. It means our teens know what’s going to happen,” she says, explaining that it gives the teens some much-needed stability.
She also advises taking time for self-reflection. Investigate why you find certain behavior provocative.
“We seem to be pointing the finger at our teens and letting them know they’re doing something wrong,” she says. “[That impulse] often arises from some triggers within us.
“We tend to get annoyed with behaviors that evoke an emotional response or remind us of something. If you were scolded about noise as a child, you can get angry when your own children play loudly. The things that upset us usually reflect our own unresolved issues rather than our children’s issues.”
It’s also always a bad idea to ever give an ultimatum or threats when you’re arguing with your teenagers, e.g. B. “You better tidy up the room or you may forget to go to your friend’s house tomorrow night!” All of this breeds power struggle and resentment. Avoid at all costs.
Reframing the mood swings and confrontations of her own teens, Dissing Sandahl found moments when her teens tested family boundaries “extremely positive and beautiful”.
“We often forget that because we have this negative image of rebellious teenagers, so we don’t really see the beauty,” she says.
In her first book, she established values that would support happy child development. These included an emphasis on play, which is essential to development and well-being; an importance attached to authenticity to foster trust; teaching your child how to put setbacks in a positive light so that they can cope with difficult situations; the encouragement of empathy towards others and of course the importance of hygge (family time).
These also apply to teenagers, but Dissing Sandahl has added the following four pillars to help navigate this transition phase.
It is of the utmost importance that your teens know that you trust them. “When you trust your teen, you get trust back, and trust helps create well-being and security and a credible relationship between us,” she says.
If your children feel like you distrust them or expect the worst of them, it will damage your relationship.
This ensures you give your teen a sense of autonomy. “Education means learning to be self-determined and develop the power to make our own decisions without depending on someone else,” she says. “When we have teenagers in the house, we need to cultivate critical thinking… It gives them the tools to reflect and make decisions for themselves.” When parents encourage this behavior, adolescents seek less advice from their friends and are more likely to think for themselves.
3. Celebrate their uniqueness
Most people felt most insecure and insecure during their teenage years. It’s an age of intense vulnerability, so it’s important to boost their self-esteem. “There’s a lot of pressure on how you look, how you act and how you’re perfect,” she says. “It is extremely important that we teach our teenagers to respect and love themselves for who they are.” Teaching teenagers to respect and love themselves will encourage compassionate treatment and behavior towards others.
4. Finally, promote their freedom with responsibility
“It really makes them feel like they’re growing up,” she says. Responsibility empowers teenagers. “They think, ‘I can go out into the world and test myself, but I still have to live up to the responsibilities I have to my family, my parents.'”
Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll: the Danish way of fighting taboos
The landscape for today’s teenagers has changed significantly, writes author Iben Dissing Sandahl in her book The Danish Way of Raising Teens. With a new era comes new approaches to sexuality, identity, and the defining pillars of the transition from child to near-adult.
Throughout the book, she outlines how parents can approach this brave new world.
In Irish society, attitudes towards sexuality in particular have changed significantly over the last ten years as a result of far-reaching reforms in the political and educational fields. The author explains that these changes are also affecting the lives of teenagers.
“In general, I talk to my daughters about sexuality the way I talk to my children and clients about death, grief, fear, and happiness. Lust and desire to explore this world doesn’t go away for your teenagers because they don’t talk about it,” writes Dissing Sandahl.
She adds that it’s not just about teenage talk about birds and bees, but rather about redefining notions of passion, consent and sexuality in a realistic way.
“You can let them know that they can come to you anytime they have questions, make themselves available, and speak positively about others,” she writes.
The internet has been a catalyst for change, she writes, allowing today’s teenagers to find answers to their questions about bodies and boundaries online in ways their parents couldn’t. But with the wealth of information available, not all is helpful.
“The internet is like a buffet where anyone can try a little without knowing the recipes and ingredients,” she writes. “You only see the perfect body, the big muscles, or the happy and carefree life, without knowing the depths, the shadows, and the dead stars. The overwhelming and unfiltered amount of data on the internet that your teenager has to deal with is a little unnerving. Therefore, your role in setting some directions is vital to their decisions, as their compass has not yet found north, south, east, and west.”
Dissing Sandahl also discusses the alarming rates of alcohol consumption among young people in Denmark, none of which will come as a shock to Irish parents. But acknowledging that your teen will drink when they intend to can be far more beneficial than forbidding them and hoping they comply. Instead, she advises coming up with a clear path or plan together, and making your teen feel like it’s another matter that they can discuss openly.
“Your teenager rarely does anything to intimidate and hurt you, but he will question agreements you make if you don’t include them. Joint and unanimous agreements make the difference. It’s about including them in decisions and finding a middle ground where both parties feel heard and spoken to.” – By Saoirse Hanley
https://www.independent.ie/life/family/parenting/can-raising-your-teens-the-danish-way-make-them-happier-42311431.html Can raising your teenagers the Danish way make them happier?