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You’ve lived through our kid’s 1 am feedings, toddler temper tantrums, their very first time at daycare and their back-to-school blues. Now, your beloved child is becoming a teenager and you’ve noticed a problem: they are transitioning from an eager-to-share kid with bright eyes to a much more private young adult who often locks their bedroom door.

Teen years are a period of intense growth — physically, mentally and emotionally. Often, it’s a period of conflict between parents and children as kids try to separate themselves from the family to become more independent. While house extensions such asteenage retreats and granny flatsmay provide them with the autonomy and the space they need, it’s also a matter of understanding why they need privacy during this period in their lives.

Is privacy important for teenagers?

Some parents confuse the word privacy with secrecy, which is why they often end up snooping around their children’s lives, jeopardising their relationship with their child. What they don’t realise is that privacy helps teenagers trust their own decisions: plus, it helps build their self-confidence. If a child shares every single problem with their parents, they will eventually just make decisions based on what their parents think instead of coming up with solutions themselves.

The need for privacy also stems from trust issues. Teenagers want to be trusted. They want to be thought of as mature young adults who are capable of being independent. According to the experts from ReachOut Parents, themutual trust that you form with your childwill also help them in their transition to adulthood. It will set them up to develop healthy relationships in the future and will also strengthen your bond with them.

However, giving your teenager space doesn’t mean ignoring them. It means respecting their privacy and not always meddling in their personal lives.Maintaining a communicative and open relationshipwill also build the foundation for mutual trust. The stronger the foundation, the more comfortable you can be about giving your child some privacy and space without necessarily giving them free rein.

When to Step In: Pick Your Battles Wisely

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There may be a time that you do need to interfere in your teenager’s life. This doesn’t mean intruding into their business if they had a fight with a friend or following them to the mall during a date.

If your teenager loses interest in the hobbies they used to enjoy, sleeps all the time, stops socialising, shows signs of alcohol or drug use and has become withdrawn — it may be time to intervene. Try to communicate with your child about the changes in their behaviour. Ask why they no longer hang out with their friends or about the erratic changes in their sleep schedule. Then, listen to what your child says and try to understand where they come from. If all you get in response is an ‘I don’t know’ or a lifeless shrug, consider having your childsee a counsellor.

With all the changes that are happening to their bodies, teenagers deserve private time to themselves as long as they don’t abuse the autonomy they’ve been given. However, a long-lasting switch in behaviour or personality may signal real trouble — the kind that needs professional help.