Families in Settlement Together

Understanding Teenagers

Your children age between 13-18 years old are teenagers.

The teen years are a time to ensure your child is going to be ready for life after high school. You’ll likely notice your teen can be quite independent in many ways. But, it’s also a time when you’ll notice areas that need some improvement.

Your Teen’s World

It’s normal for your teen to think the world revolves around him sometimes. In fact, they might even think they have an “imaginary audience.”

The “imaginary audience” is a label for teens’ belief that a group of followers exists who constantly watch and judge their every move.11 The belief arises from the larger concept of adolescent egocentrism, that teens think the world revolves around them and that everyone is paying attention to how they look and what they do. This is a normal phase of social development in teens.

It can be exasperating for a parent to see their teen change his shirt five times before heading to school, with most of the choices appearing almost identical. But this is normal teen behaviors.

In addition to becoming more invested in social relationships, your teen will also grow more aware of social issues. They may grow invested in helping a charity or fighting for a political cause they believe in.

As your teen matures, they’ll spend more time thinking about their values. They may question their faith or claim they’re going to live a different lifestyle than you. That’s all part of the separation process as your teen becomes their own person.

It’s normal for all teens to feel like they don’t fit in sometimes. Their confidence is also likely to waiver. But for teens who are bullied and ostracized, adolescence is likely to be an especially rough time.

If your teen is struggling to fit in socially, consider getting professional help. Loneliness and isolation could lead to mental health problems.

It’s also important to keep a close eye on your teen’s stress level. Academic issues, social problems, sports-related pressure, and preparing for the future can be overwhelming at times.

Make sure your teen isn’t over-scheduled. Down time is important.

Teens need healthy stress reduction activities and relaxation skills. Proactively teach your teen how to recognize when her stress level is high and show her how to cope with stress in a healthy way.

Independent, Emotional and Rebellious

Typical teenage rebellion can last up to six years and can include defiant behavior and rapidly changing moods, according to Dr. Barton D. Schmitt reported in the article, “Adolescents: Dealing with Normal Rebellion,” on the Children’s Physician Network’s website. Although not all teenagers become rebellious, many do become more resistant to authority, often having a major impact on family dynamics and personal relationships. Teens form their self-concept and sense of identity by establishing independence from parents, sometimes engaging in emotional verbal conflict with family or other rebellious behavior.

Energetic, Adventurous and Risk-Taking

Sleep patterns may change as teens are often full of energy and prefer to stay up later. Incomplete frontal lobe development makes it difficult for most teens to control impulses.

Adventurous or risk-taking behavior is not uncommon. Teens often have a need for excitement and adventure, which sometimes causes them to overlook the potential dangers involved in risk-taking activities, such as unprotected sexual activity or drug experimentation.

Maturing Physically, Hormonal, Sexually Aware and Social

Teenagers may experience significant growth spurts between the ages of 13 and 18. Hormonal levels increase, as adolescent girls begin producing more estrogen. Teen girls fill out physically, begin menstruation, gain weight and can grow almost 10 inches taller between these ages. Teen boys also experience hormonal changes and begin producing more testosterone. Physical changes common in adolescent boys include growth of facial hair and significant weight gain. Teen boys can grow up to 20 inches taller between these ages. Physical and hormonal changes also bring about an increased sexual awareness, leading many teens to begin to experiment with their sexuality. Many teenagers begin to engage in sexual activity early in adolescence, according to a report in “Pediatrics,” the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Some teens might become involved in a sexual relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend or dedicate much of their time to socialization. Time with friends sometimes takes priority over schoolwork or time with family.

Intellectual Growth

Teens grow intellectually during adolescence and are able to begin making life goals. The ability to understand abstract reasoning increases and teens begin to consider and conceptualize possibilities to hypothetical situations. Some teens might begin to question their parents’ points of view, and they may enjoy debating ideas. Organizational skills tend to improve, as many teens are able to handle multiple responsibilities, including work, socialization and school. However, impulsivity often wins over intellectual growth, and teens often act before thinking of long-term consequences.

parenting advice for teens




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