* What is Adolescence, Anyway?

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What is Adolescence, Anyway?

Have you ever thought about why it might be beneficial to understand the stages of adolescence? You might be surprised to learn that it may work to your advantage if you did.

My mom used to say, “Generations of parents before us dealt with it just fine.” It is true parents have struggled with the mood swings, impulsiveness, and inability to take responsibility that is seen in some teens long before now.

Okay, I agree with the adolescent turmoil thing. However, after you factor in how the world is different – changing family patters, confusing cultural sexual messages, availability of drugs, internet access, and blurred role expectations – you might get why it is important to have knowledge and tolerance of this stage of life.

Understating what’s going on helps reduce conflicts.

Parents and teens who are more aware of the common developmental changes of adolescence, along with the potential pitfalls, are better able to help each other deal with them.

What is adolescence?

Adolescence falls approximately between the years of twelve and twenty.

This is the period when kids are in the transition of leaving the security of childhood and moving into adulthood. It can be a confusing time and teens need lots of understating!

Teens experience rapid growth in their bodies, emotions, attitudes, intellect, values, independence, and relationships. Emotional highs and lows are tied to hormonal changes.

Here are a few common areas that parents are challenged with:

Emotional Changes

“Is my daughter depressed? She appears apathetic and moody. She cries so easily.”

Some moodiness is normal. Teens experience peaks and valleys daily. It is important for us, as parents, to try and recall our own teen years and how impressionable we were at that age and the deep need we felt to be accepted.

However, if you think what your teen is experiencing is beyond the norm, then it is important to seek professional help. If your child has prolonged periods of depression or verbalizes that they “want to die or would rather be dead” or something along those lines – get professional help immediately.

Social Changes

“I used to know my son, now he seems like a stranger. He comes home from school and goes straight into his room. Is he trying to hide something?”

No. He probably isn’t trying to hide anything.

During adolescence kids have an increased need for privacy. They tend to seek the support and security of their peer group, rather than parents. They still need their parents’ supervision, but instead of being a helicopter parent you need to shift to being more like a guidance counselor.

Your role in your child’s life is changing. Parents experience different feelings adjusting to their shifting relationship. Some feel happy and some may feel saddened by their diminished role in their teenager’s life.

Physical Changes

“My son is obsessed with his looks. How can we teach him proper values?”

Let me tell you, most teens are highly sensitive to what they look like! This is because they want to fit in and be normal. They want to look cool. The current “in look” may be unacceptable to parents, but it helps to reassure your teen that s/he looks good.

Teens and parents need to remind themselves that all of these changes are a common part of growing up.

Parents – your child needs your guidance, understating and support to help make this transition a little smoother.

For more specific help on this transition check out our CD packages:

“Parents – Are You Prepared for the Teen Years” or
“Strengthening the Parent – Teen Connection”

These are full of helpful parenting tips and strategies to help you navigate thru the teen years. Go to: “Parenting Tools” on our web site to learn more.

Patt Saso assists people back into harmony in their relationships. She is a Parenting Coach and Marriage & Family therapist in Milpitas, CA.  Patt & Steve Saso are authors of 10 Best Gifts for Your Teen and Parenting Your Teen with TLC.

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