Adolescent Development

Children must pass through several stages on their road to becoming adults such as infancy (birth to age two), early childhood, later childhood and adolescence. Persons 18 and over are considered adults in our society. Knowledge about changes and behaviors during adolescence are normal helps both teens and adults manage the transition successfully.

To ensure that teens and adults navigate these transitions successfully, it is important for both to understand what is happening to the teen physically, cognitively, and socially and what adults can do. Adolescents need role models so they need to be around other adults like relatives, neighbors, or teachers. Adolescents day dream about their future life and that is natural.

Coping with Stress

Adolescence is a period of considerable stress. While much of the stress can be minimized through support, persistence, and active decision making and planning, there will still be difficult situations. Strategies for stress management include relaxation techniques, managing ‘self talk,’ focusing, and using support systems.

Coping with Loss

Young people are influenced by various personal losses like death in the family (usually grand parents) and parental separation and divorce. The impact of these losses upon career events are considerable and there is a definite need for youth to develop competence in handling loss and grieving.

Physical Development

During the teen years, adolescents experience changes in their physical development at a rate of speed unparalleled since infancy. Physical development includes: growth of pubic hair; menarche or penis growth; voice changes; growth of underarm hair; facial hair growth ; and increased production of oil, increased sweat gland activity, and the beginning of acne.

Teens become more clumsy because their body parts don’t grow at the same rate. The rapid weight gain is associated with puberty. Adolescent girls become so obsessed with their weight that they develop severe eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia.

Teens may ask more direct questions about sex so provide honest answers about sex. They may ask questions about sex and methods of birth control and protection from sexually transmitted diseases.

There are also some specific things adults can do to be supportive:
Don’t criticize or compare the teens to others because they are acutely self-conscious about the way they look.

Encourage them to get enough sleep. Encourage healthy eating habits by keeping plenty of nutritious foods at home.

Encourage them to do exercise as it will help burn excess energy, strengthen developing muscles, and sleep better at night.

Understand their need for physical space. Do not force your teen to hug or kiss relatives or family friends. Allow your teens’ need to withdraw. Teens often spend large amounts of time grooming themselves so please be patient with them.

Cognitive Development:

Developing advanced reasoning skills. Advanced reasoning skills include the ability to think about multiple options and possibilities.

Feelings and Emotions

Teens demonstrate self-consciousness. Teens tend to believe that everyone is as concerned with their thoughts and behaviors.

Teens tend to become very cause-oriented and they may tend to discount your experience.
Try to empathize with them. Provide opportunities for teens to get involved in community service.

Teens want to become active in things that have deeper meaning.

Talk to teens

Find out what they think about news stories on television or in the paper; ask them about their political and spiritual beliefs. Teens are already thinking about these things so give them a non-threatening forum for discussing them.

Talk to them about your own mistakes and vulnerabilities which a teenager can understand. Don’t treat your teenager as an adult even if s/he shows to be matured. Try to understand their feelings and express yours so that you can be understood.