Adolescence, or puberty, is a natural phase of child development. It typically starts anywhere from ages 8 to 14, with girls usually starting puberty earlier than boys. This part of life can be especially challenging to the parent/child relationship for two reasons:
- First, puberty marks the time when a child’s body begins to reach sexual maturity and produces all sorts of physical changes, new feelings, and behaviors they have never experienced. This is perhaps the easiest way to tell when a child has started puberty.
- Secondly, adolescence essentially programs teens to value their status with peer groups more than their parents. The same old routine just will not do for them. It is perfectly natural for teens to try out new identities as they figure out who they want their friends to be and what kind of character they value.
Combined, these factors can prove to be very stressful to the teen and the parent. And, although teens can usually find their way, it is unfortunately a reality that the tidal wave of new emotions, dramatic changes in their bodies, and their new-found sense of independence can inculcate problem behaviors.
As a parent, the appropriate response is not blaming them or yourself. But, instead, always affirm your love for them. It’s always a good idea to talk to kids about the oncoming changes they will be experiencing in a loving way. On the other hand, it is not always a good idea to object to some of their new behavior, for example, dying their hair or wearing funky clothes. Remember, their sense of independence is natural and hardwired into every person. They need some room to explore.
That being said, sometimes a parent needs help. It is not always easy to tell when natural experimentation becomes a problem. Some degree of change is to be expected. But, there are some changes that should be taken very seriously:
- falling grades
- bullying others
- poor mood control
- consistent and overt defiance
- substance abuse
- low self-esteem
- any mention of suicide
If your teen is showing problematic behaviors affecting the quality of their life or yours, there is help. ParentResources.info is a resource for parents who need help identifying the core of problem behavior. They help parents find therapy sessions designed to build your teen’s self-esteem rather than engage in a harmful blame-game. You can call ParentResources toll-free at 1-866-490-3666. They will take your call 24/7. Your child can be helped. Call today.