Adolescence, Second Chance

What happens when a teenager has no frame in his childhood? Is it still possible to set limits to a big fellow or a young insolent? Yes, say our specialists, because it's never too late to take back the reins of education.

Bernadette Costa-Prades

"You have sown a baby, you are harvesting a bomb", summed up humorously British pediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald W. Winnicott speaking of the teenager, formula all the more fair when the 'child has been brought up without limits.' Often, after the first few years of quirks, calm returned to the latency period, between 6 and 11 years old, reassuring parents that he was not It's a serious blow to him, says psychiatrist Patrice Huerre, "When adolescence comes, it's a delayed explosion that occurs." What was more or less controllable when he measured a meter ten becomes very difficult when he dominates us with a head ... Most parents, helpless, trying in vain to regain control of the situation. Others, so discouraged, prefer to throw in the towel, convinced that it is too late: after all, that he does what he wants, he is unmanageable!

"If they resign, it is society that will come up with limits, in a more violent and brutal way, not to mention that they are themselves outlaws: parents have a duty to educate. and protection until the majority of their child, "recalls the child psychiatrist Stéphane Clerget. The mistake would be to wait until "youth is happening" by bowing down the spine: if this proverb is valid for the adolescent in general, it is totally false for the one who has not known limits. Admittedly, recovery can take more effort, more time, but the game is not lost, it can even be a second chance, provided however to be persuaded to act in his interest. This intimate conviction is the true keystone of success.

Announce change of course

How? In speaking to him as sincerely as possible, advises Patrice Huerre: "Until now, we let you do it, we regret it, we do not serve you, it will change." Stéphane Clerget suggests, he, to present this bend in a rewarding way: "Child, you made the law, but now, we want to make you a responsible adult." After all, in many cultures the child is king during infancy and must submit to the authority of the clan at puberty. "This is not a regression as a dependent child, but a progression towards an autonomy, which passes by the necessity of being able to be limited ", continues the child psychiatrist.Admittedly, the teenager will have a smile, especially if you have already tried to control it without success. Except that now you are really determined.

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