Life Style

“In adolescence, autonomy is a question of risk taking”

The cross. What turn does the question of autonomy take in adolescence?

Vincent Berthou : The teenager knows more about doing alone, of course, he no longer needs someone to prepare his breakfast! But the challenge of adolescence is to conquer your own living and thinking space: your room, your friends, your privacy, your opinions …

→ INVESTIGATION. Autonomy in children, a new injunction?

These inclinations for independence exacerbate an issue of individuation that has actually existed since the beginning of life. However, the way in which the adolescent will experience it strongly depends on how it was during childhood. Growing up in an environment with both parental presence and a margin of freedom helps the teenager to take risks.

Is autonomy a question of risk taking?

VB : Yes. Because there is in adolescence an uncontrolled and uncontrollable side, something that one undergoes, including in his body. It is destabilizing even distressing. Some, as we see in many school phobias, will prevent this process or seek to control it with a certain conformism with other teenagers, following such and such a person for lack of ability to choose for themselves what suits them or even by isolating himself with the screens.

→ CHRONICLE. What do you mean by “adolescent”?

Adolescents who are not doing well are often those who find it difficult to be teenagers, to accept the risk of being in a new environment, the uncertainty, the degree of anxiety that this period imposes on them. However, it is essential to confront it.

How can parents support adolescents on this journey?

VB : The difficulty is that they too can be anxious: for their child, his future, success at school… They can be tempted to overprotect him, by anticipating all his desires, by watching him… or, conversely, to leave it on the screens.

Just like teenagers, parents must learn to manage their anxiety, to accept not always knowing exactly where their child is, what he is doing. For the child, it is important to learn to manage, even if it is a little scary, even if one fails, and to call on the other if necessary. The parent must remain attentive, listening … if necessary! Having passed on the knowledge of limits and what to go towards during childhood helps greatly.

Seeing your child empower himself is the whole goal of education …

VB : Yes, including agreeing to disagree with him and being curious about new things that attract him and that we did not expect. We remain a parent, a point of reference, with certain values, but happy to see him become an adult. Moreover, the end of adolescence is often the time for coming together, when we really move from the desire for independence to true autonomy, which is in fact the acceptance of an interdependence and leads to composing, to doing adjustments between its ideals and its constraints.


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