(The picture I chose for this is of my older brothers and I last Christmas. My mom told us to look like we loved each other so this was the picture she got. Although I don’t like showing much of my own life on here, I thought this image was fitting.)
To continue my ‘series’ on writing relations, I’ve decided to do a post on the interactions between children and teenagers.
Now, to put this into perspective, I’ll split this post into two parts: Children your characters are related to, and children your characters aren’t related to.
Obviously, I imagine anyone reading this could have wrote the exact same post. The reason I’m putting the effort in, though, is because I feel we are blindsided with our story ideas so much so that we forget how to be realistic to our characters. The point of this post is simply to remind writers (especially those pesky YA writers) of how teenagers actually act.
Now, to the point. I’ll start with the relationships your teenage characters can have with their younger family members.
The Blood Relatives
From having two older brothers of my own, I’ve discovered that there are a few different ways older siblings can treat their younger ones. Firstly, older kids sometimes act like parents for their younger siblings. This is most common when children’s parents are divorced. The older sibling will want to take responsibility over the younger child due to a belief that the parents are incapable of doing so.
Secondly, older siblings sometimes believe that their younger siblings are just extremely annoying.
Some older siblings just can’t stand their younger siblings. Occasionally,this hatred is due to the older sibling being spoiled. Other times this is a result of the younger sibling being spoiled. Either way, one of the siblings is a brat and this results in hatred.
Hatred like this can be expressed in forms such as: Fighting, yelling, vocal violence, disrespect to other’s belonging, tattling, and so on.
Maybe the siblings in your novel get along well, though. Sometimes siblings can become like best friends. Like all human relationships, they’ll fight every so often over stupid things, but sooner of later they’ll get over it. Siblings that get along often have each other back. The dig each other out of trouble or at the very least provide transport when needed. No matter the age really, siblings that get along, find it easier to confide in each other. A younger sibling may look up to the older and find it easier to tell them things that they can’t tell their parents.
Often times, younger siblings strive to be their older siblings. Occasionally, this really frustrates the older, but it can also give them a great deal of pride.
Sometimes teenagers just straight up don’t talk to their younger siblings. The teenager is possibly to absorbed in their own life that they don’t care to talk to their younger siblings. It’s as simple as that.
If there are any other relationships or instances I didn’t think to add, feel free to write in the comments what you think so others can see, too. Also, a great deal of these apply to instances, not just with siblings and relatives, but with any children that your teenagers know well (Cousins, neighbors, a friends sibling)
Strange Little Stranger children
Teenagers react to stranger children much differently than children they know. Teenagers will often be much nicer and try much harder to get on a child’s good side. For some reason, people thrive under the approval of children. If a child likes you, then you feel like you’re on top of the world.
Teenagers want to be liked by children. They also want to show them how cool they are because they’re older. Usually teenagers aren’t mean about it, but they just want to prove to themselves, and the child, that they’ve done something interesting with the time they’ve been alive.
On the other hand, teenagers sometimes straight up hate children. They’re gross, annoying, bratty, stuck up, not brought up correctly, and just completely in the way at all times. Teenagers don’t necessarily express there hatred but there are some things to notice when they don’t have much favor of the younger generation: Belittling them, trying to hurry them off to someone else, refusing to play along with childish games, ignoring them, etc.
I trust that at one point in your life you had a “I hate children” phase. We all do.
So, before you write, decide what kind of relationship your teenagers are going to have with your younger characters. Don’t just make it up as you go. Pick one of my examples above if you can’t think of one yourself and just go for gold!