Once your child becomes a teen, many new challenges may arise. Helping your adolescent navigate through these developmental stages will help them succeed as adults.
The adolescent years typically begin at age thirteen. Some children start slightly earlier with the onset of puberty and others experience delayed puberty. However, it is not the physical changes that declare the beginning of the adolescent years, it is the emotional change parents report they see in their child.
Most teenagers begin to rely on their peers as support and separate from their parents. The adolescent tends to be more interested in what their peers think of them and can become more influenced by their friends than their parents. Teens begin to explore different looks or styles and they may change peer groups and connect with different interests.
During the teenage years adolescents also begin to think more rationally and independently about the world around them as they start to make morally conscious decisions. The goal post-adolescence is see an independent, young adult emerge. It takes a lot of patience and understanding on the part of the parent to support the teen through this very tumultuous time.
In the current environment of growing up as a teenager, the stakes are high! Academics, sports, material possessions, and social media pressures are a number of stressors that effect the adolescent of today. Our youth have a constant need to stay relevant to their peer group in and out of school and sports. Social media plays a large role in the increase in adolescent anxiety and depression. Throughout the teenage years it is imperative that as parents we stay current and open to the social trends.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following recommendations to parents of teens:
- Educate yourself: read books about teenagers and relevant topics
- Talk to kids early and often and be ready to talk when they are ready
- Have an open door policy
- Allow your children to express themselves in their comfort zone and give them suggestions on proper ways of expression
- Put yourself in your child’s place – try imagine what it would be like for you in 2018
- Pick your battles
- Think twice before you object to dying their hair or dark nail polish. Allowing them to express themselves in a smaller capacity will set expectations of when a teen goes too far with inappropriate dress, piercing, or tattoos.
- Set expectations – although they may push back, teens typically understand their parents care enough about them to expect good grades, acceptable behavior, curfews, and sticking to the house rules. If parents have appropriate expectations, teens will likely try to meet them. Without reasonable expectations, your teen may feel as if you are not invested or do not care.
- Inform your teen and stay informed
- Know the warning signs – a certain amount of change is normal during the teen years, however drastic or long-lasting changes in personality or behavior may signal real trouble – the kind that needs professional help. Watch for these warning signs:
- extreme weight gain or loss
- sleep problems
- rapid, drastic changes in personality
- sudden change in friends
- skipping school often
- falling grades
- talk or even jokes about suicide
- signs of tobacco, alcohol, or drug use
- run-ins with the law
Any other inappropriate behavior that lasts for more than 6 weeks can be a sign of underlying trouble. You may expect a glitch or two in your teen’s behavior or grades during this time, but your A/B student shouldn’t suddenly be failing, and your normally outgoing kid shouldn’t suddenly become constantly withdrawn.
Overall, it’s important to respect your teen’s privacy and build a reciprocal relationship of trust. Most parents feel they have the right to know everything about their children, however, during the teenage years teens becomes more independent. Consciously giving them their space and privacy makes for a better relationship. Reading their text messages, emails, and voice messages can send a message that you do not trust them.
If you notice warning signs of trouble then breaking their privacy is absolutely warranted.
If you have any questions or concerns about your teen, please make an appointment with one of our practitioners. If your child needs additional help, The Pediatric Center is very informed of local counselors, psychologists, or psychiatrists to find proper counseling.