The process of teen separation

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The process of teen separation

One of the things that I think is surprising and extraordinarily difficult for parents, is when their child turns from being this loving -- "I love you mommy. Sit with me." -- to their eyes are rolling, they are clicking with disgusts; and they are slamming doors. It's like, what happened? What happened was puberty. Puberty, thank goodness, is time limited. It's found, not only in humans, but in apes as well. Mother apes and their children also go through a period where they are not acting happy with each other, but I think there is a misperception out there. That misperception is that this is a huge disruption. The reality is that the word that is used most frequently by both parents and kids alike is that it is a period of bickering. It is a period of bickering because what is the child trying to do at that point? They've got to separate. They've got to start staking out their own life. One way they do that is, "I'm not sure who I am, but I'm sure not you." The way they say that is, you say, "Let's go to the movies," and they say, "I would never, ever go to the movies with you;" or you are walking down the street and she is walking five steps behind you because, my goodness, you are not related to each other. They don't walk with you anymore. This is typical adolescent behavior. Interestingly, we are all prepared for a lot of stress from teenagers, but the real stress come about early puberty. It lasts about three years. Hang on, you'll make it through.

Watch Madeline Levine, PhD's video on The process of teen separation...


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Madeline Levine, PhD

Psychologist & Author

Madeline Levine, PhD, is a psychologist with close to 30 years of experience as a clinician, consultant and educator. Her New York Times bestseller, The Price of Privilege, explores the reasons why teenagers from affluent families are experiencing epidemic rates of emotional problems.  Her book, Teach Your Children Well, outlines how our current narrow definition of success unnecessarily stresses academically talented kids and marginalizes many more whose talents and interests are less amenable to measurement. The development of skills needed to be successful in the 21st century- creativity, collaboration, innovation – are not easily developed in our competitive, fast-paced, high pressure world. Teach Your Children Well gives practical, research- based solutions to help parents return their families to healthier and saner versions of themselves.

Dr. Levine is also a co-founder of Challenge Success, a project born at the Stanford School of Education. Challenge Success believes that our increasingly competitive world has led to tremendous anxiety about our children’s’ futures and has resulted in a high pressure, myopic focus on grades, test scores and performance. This kind of pressure and narrow focus isn’t helping our kids become the resilient, capable, meaningful contributors we need in the 21st century. So every day, Challenge Success provides families and schools with the practical research-based tools they need to raise healthy, motivated kids, capable of reaching their full potential. We know that success is measured over the course of a lifetime, not at the end of the grading period.

Dr. Levine began her career as an elementary and junior high school teacher in the South Bronx of New York before moving to California and earning her degrees in psychology. She has had a large clinical practice with an emphasis on child and adolescent problems and parenting issues. Currently however, she spends most of her time crisscrossing the country speaking to parents, educators, students, and business leaders. Dr. Levine has taught Child Development classes to graduate students at the University of California Medical Center/ San Francisco. For many years, Dr. Levine has been a consultant to various schools, from preschool through High School, public as well as private, throughout the country. She has been featured on television programs from the Early Show to the Lehrer report, on NPR stations such as Diane Rheems in Washington and positively reviewed in publications from Scientific American to the Washington Post. She is sought out both nationally and internationally as an expert and keynote speaker. 

Dr. Levine and her husband of 35 years, Lee Schwartz, MD are the incredibly proud (and slightly relieved) parents of three newly minted and thriving sons.

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