When things go bad, it’s hard
e is e e s er e ” Social media can play a part in this vulnerability but all three experts agree social media can be a force for good and not necessarily the evil many parents fear. “There is nothing inherently evil about social networking; just like in the real world, you can have positive and negative social connections,” Cann says. Carr-Gregg says social media can be a double-edged sword. “Instagram is the battle of the selfies. It’s a giant digital colosseum now, where kids basically wage war. I think that can be incredibly destructive, particularly if you have a fragile sense of self and define yourself very much by how others see you. “But if it’s positive, we know those positive connections through social media actually build resilience and lower depression and lower anxiety. So there is this paradox.” The role of friends becomes crucial at 14 as teens start to pull away from their parents. “For the very first time you see your parents through adult eyes,” CarrGregg says. “Most kids are incredibly embarrassed by them, which is important. You want them to be embarrassed because a key developmental task for young people is to emancipate from their parents and nothing is going to help you emancipate from your parents faster than thinking that they are crushingly embarrassing.” e says research shows the greatest predictor of wellbeing for kids is having a rich repertoire of friends. “At 14, you’re learning the ability to obtain, maintain and retain friendships, which is going to be crucial to your wellbeing for the rest of your life,” Carr-Gregg says. Disengagement from not only parents but school can become an issue for 14-year-olds as well, with many schools setting up programs targeted specifically at this age group. Ascham School, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, for example, offers a one-term residential program to girls in year 9. Carr-Gregg agrees such programs can remind teens of a few positives. “At a time when they view their (From lef t) Luke van Ratingen, Amelia Watson, Piper Workman and Josh van Ratingen. Pictures: Braden Fastier parents as little more than pond scum, it’s actually a good idea to make them appreciate the parent by taking them away from them and getting them to experience what it’s like to live with a bunch of other people,” he says. Grose says the mythology around adolescence is that teens don’t want or need their parents as much as they did when they were younger. “I think most people who have teenagers will understand it’s the opposite. You need to give them more time. They do have problems,oblems, they they do want to talk throughh things things with you.” Cann says recent research in WA found 56 56 per cent of kids would like to spend more timee with their parents thann they currently do. “The really crucial thing for kids is to continue to receive warmth, for parents to continue to invest in thatat relationship,” Cann says.ys. “The “The more they can do that the the more more they are investing in their child’s emotional health.” YOU don’t have to win all the time. Learn to negotiate; it will make your life and your child’s life easier. SET limits and boundaries but choose your battlegrounds. Only fight over things that matter, such as safety, sleep, drugs, sex, alcohol, curfews, exercise, diet. DON’T sweat the small stuff. Ignore the floordrobe. You can literally stuff up the quality of your own life as well as theirs by getting too caught up in that stuff. Just shut the door and walk away. DON’T be frightened of technology. KNOW your child’s temperament. Some 14-year-olds require minimal supervision, some require a truckload. Exams don’t actually measure intelligence. Money, despite what Kim Kardashian says, can’t buy happiness.
Nonconformity is good. There is something wonderful about the eccentric in this world.
Being able to resolve disagreements amicably is really important (teaching conflict resolution skills is vital). It’s important to apologise when you are wrong. People are more important than things. Doing nothing is not a waste of time. Knowledge doesn’t equal understanding. Failure can be good. Don’t give up. Put your head down and work hard. Never wait for things to happen; make them happen.
Piper Workman, 14, right, and Amelia elia Watson, 14, below.
Having more independence is the standout positive to being 14, according to friends Amelia and Piper. “I love that I have more independence,” says Piper. “On the weekends I hang out with my friends and we can go shopping and see movies and I c can get there myself.” Amelia agrees:a “You get to explorere new fr friendships, have more freedom reedom and new opportunities. It’s a time when youyo start to gain real life experiencexperience and learnle how to handle yourself and be mature.”m But, as the girls are discovering, with this new-found freedom comes the needn to balance responsibility with fun. “It can be really stressful balancing yo your social life, school, family and your pers personal space,” Amelia says. “When things go bad, it’s hard because you’re going through puberty and you have all these emotions you don’t understand.” For Piper, friendship groups are harder to navigate. “Friendship groups are becoming quite tight, but there’s often conflict, which can lead to a change in the group dynamics.”