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  • Writer's picturedrjennifer_tauks

All We Need Is Just A Little Patience

Anyone who is the parent of an adolescent or who works with them knows that the words patience and adolescence do not always go together. Parenting adolescent teens requires us to stop, refocus, be less reactive, and control ourselves…sometimes minute by minute. Most parents and caregivers would agree that one of the most common phrases that come out of their adolescents’ mouth is, “I know this!” Our adolescents believe they know it all, they don’t need help, and patience is a word, not an action. Practicing and role-modeling patience with adolescents builds resiliency, helps with mood regulation, improves decision-making skills, and develops better communication skills.

We incorporate patience into our daily routines, long-term goals, and into our interpersonal relationships. The Oxford Dictionary defines patience as the capability to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting upset. During adolescent development, these skills can feel almost impossible to achieve. As a therapist, I encourage all of my parents, friends, caregivers, teachers, and anyone else working with adolescents to shift their perspective and look at patience as a protective factor in adolescent development.

The adolescent brain is rapidly developing between the ages of 11-21. Simultaneously, growth development along with social and emotional changes are also occurring. Conceptualizing patience as a protective factor for adolescent development helps the adolescent to control their emotions, problem-solve, improve self-esteem, engage in their academic interests, improves social skills, and build coping skills. The goal is to reduce adolescent risk-taking behaviors that may lead to ongoing maladaptive issues later in life.

The reality is that today’s youth are accustomed to the immediacy of quick replies from text messages, emails, and social media platforms. As adults, we need to place more of an emphasis on patience to provide adolescents with strategies to help lower frustration levels, improve impulse control, enhance their ability to process information, and communicate effectively. Here are five ways that parents and providers can practice and model patience with the adolescents in their lives:

  1. Hear Don’t Tell – patience involves listening

  2. Reframe and Restate what your adolescent is saying – this helps them to stop, process, and apply what is being discussed in the conversation

  3. Relationship over Results – Invest in a relationship instead of focusing on the issues or outcomes

  4. Focus on Feelings – Help your adolescent identify and know their feelings and reactions to them

  5. Provide Calming Strategies – Model the ability to stop and think before responding, practice relaxation techniques, and speak in a calm & low voice

Research suggests that the more we respond to daily life challenges with patience, our mental health improves, we have a greater success rate of achieving short and long-term goals, and we experience better interpersonal relationships. Framing patience as an intervention and protective factor during adolescent development contributes to an adolescent developing into a healthy and resilient adult.

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