The teen years are an important developmental time.
Important things that happen during this time include:
1. Forming important relationships
Teens spend more and more time with peers. Peers influence the formation of their identity and allow to them to try out different groups to see where they fit in. Teens may face stress in this area and social anxiety is not uncommon. Friendship problems may arise when someone excludes, feels left out, or has disagreements with their friend group. Teens need help navigating the difficult relationships they form during this time in their life so they don’t negatively impact their self-esteem. Having someone they trust to talk with can make a difference. Without support, parents and teens often find themselves in conflict over friend choices.
2. Becoming more independent of parents and other caregivers
As they become closer to friends, teens are also known for making parents feel like they are pushing them away. Teens will spend more time alone in their room or time texting with friends then they did previously. This new sense of independence is a hallmark of the adolescent years and is part of normal development. Teens are trying out separating from adults they previously have relied heavily on. It is important as a parent/caregiver to strike a balance between offering support and being available, and giving space to a growing teen.
3. “Trying on” different roles
Teens will be seen “trying on” different friend groups and aspects of their developing personality. They may frequently change their interests, hobbies, hairstyles, and their moods! Their emotions can be overwhelming to them and their loved ones. Get them support to help navigate these mood changes and understand their emotions.
4. Beginning to develop a career path
Typically in the high school years, teens begin thinking about and exploring career options and what they’d like to study in college/post-graduation. Even as early as middle school, I see young teens already stressing about college and their future. Will they be successful and make enough money? Will they get the grades they need to get into a good college? Parents need to know that although they may not talk about it aloud, teens are often fretting about these issues too. In fact, it is the thing that causes the most anxiety in teens I see.
5. Developing a clearer sense of who we are and which direction we want to go in life
The encouragement and unconditional support of our loved ones, especially our parents and other caregivers, can help us emerge from these years as more confident, secure young adults who have a sense of who we are and how we fit into the world around us. A lack of support during this time can leave us feeling insecure, confused, and lost.
These years are tough for teens and parents alike. It is a challenge for parents to adjust to the ever changing needs and growing independence of adolescent children. It may be difficult to communicate. You are not a failure if you cannot do it alone.
I provide support for teens and their parents struggling with
Assertiveness and communication
I wish you all the best!
Amy Schullery, Psy.D.
West Chester, PA