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What's The Worst Age?

Parents reckon that their kids are hardest to handle when they are teenagers, according to TheBabyWebsite's most recent survey.

It was very clear, from the study of 2,000 parents with children over 18 years old, that boys are a nightmare at age 15 and girls are a handful at 14. Parents of boys will see their son struggle to cope with school, worry about his bad skin and find it hard to communicate his feelings with adults.

Mums and dads of girls will have to put up with them trying to grow up too quickly, dabbling with alcohol, battling with their changing bodies and complaining they don't get enough pocket money.

Co-Editor Kathryn Crawford said: "New parents live in dread of the ‘Terrible Twos', but parents of teenagers will tell them that the worst is yet to come. Ironically, many toddler traits surface again when children become teenagers, but often become even more difficult to deal with.

The survey results show two distinct ‘difficult' phases in a child's life. The general consensus is that the teenage years are beyond doubt the worst."

78 per cent of parents who had boys found them particularly moody, sullen and sulky at age 15. The same percentage found their sons incredibly hard to communicate with, and while their child didn't throw tantrums of any sort they found it difficult to express themselves.

Seven in 10 parents say their sons got cross with them when they felt they weren't being understood, and 62 per cent of boys would hole themselves up in their bedroom to avoid having to talk with anyone.

While 56 per cent of parents admitted their sons were quite badly behaved as they went through puberty and the teenage years - 66 per cent acknowledge much of this was down to the change in hormones.

In contrast, parents of girls say the main problem when they were 14-years-old was that their little girl turned into a grown woman overnight. Nine in 10 parents think girls mature a lot more quickly than boys, and 56 per cent say they found it hard to cope with their little princess growing up.

Communications between parents and daughters are also strained at age 14, as girls struggle to be happy with their appearance and fit in with friends.

Whereas boys are more concerned at this age with doing well at school, girls are more preoccupied with after-school activities such as going into town, buying make up and even trying alcohol with older boyfriends and friends.

TheBabyWebsite says:
"We have to remember that as well as being the worst age for the parents, the teenage years are also the most difficult for the children themselves. Teenagers genuinely can't help being surly and moody. They are often confused and scared by their hormone-driven mood swings. Add peer-pressure to the raging hormones and it's hardly surprising that teenagers throw the odd ‘strop'. As a parent, all you can do is count to ten as often as it takes and just be there for them.'

Overall, 65 per cent of those polled who are parents to both boys AND girls say girls are the hardest to raise.

Boys were voted the most difficult to bring up during the early years, and for over two thirds of parents, girls suffered the most through puberty and the teenage years.

Flashpoints for Boys

1. Studying
2. Wanting to be independent
3. Peer pressure
4. Wanting to grow up too quickly
5. Raging hormones
6. Being bored
7. Puberty
8. Communicating with adults
9. Bad skin and spots
10. Fitting in with friends

Flashpoints for Girls

1. Wanting to be independent
2. Wanting to grow up too quickly
3. Peer pressure
4. Raging hormones
5. Not having enough allowance / pocket money
6. Thinking she was too fat
7. Puberty
8. Fitting in with friends
9. Privacy
10. Dabbling with alcohol

28 April 2010
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