My Teen is Growing Up

Adolescence is considered to be one of the most important phases in the developmental theory and developmental progress.  It is the time when a child emerges from the latency period, pre-pubescence, where they are trying to figure out who they are and where they belong.  The adolescent phase marks an intense quest for identity.  During this stage, the teen takes on various tasks that aid in his or her developmental maturing.  These tasks include: separation from the family as the teen begins to learn new ways of being outside the family; accepting body image changes and secondary sex changes; development of new more functional cognitive abilities; and the development of healthy coping mechanisms to handle these and other changes.

From 11 years of age through 13 years teens become more preoccupied with how they look.  Rapid body changes have a lot of social significance among peers and affect the teens self image.  The adolescent peer group influence begins to increase as the adolescent seeks out the approval for their changing identity.  Teens tend to want to avoid ridicule so they conform to their peer groups ideas and actions.  During this period it is extremely important that parents continue to provide structure and offer a safe environment for their child(ren) to express themselves. During this period teens are susceptible to deviant behavior by their peers. 

From 14 years of age through 16 years most boys and girls have grown into their adult bodies and begin to feel more confident about themselves.  Sexual urges increase and peer groups change as dating increases.  Teens begin to move away from their family as they begin to self examine.  During this time many teens learn to cope with social rejection, consider factors that will allow for better decision making, and will develop skills to better deal with frustrations and stressors.   Yet others who do not, may become self destructive, angry, and oppositional. 

From 17 years of age through 19 years the adolescent begins to think more like an adult.  They become more self reliant and more sure about themselves.  Peer group influence begins to diminish and the need for independence increases.  During this time parents begin to yield control and encourage their young adult to begin to accept more responsibilities.

As a child navigates through adolescence parent(s) need to provide both emotional support and structure.  Parents need to continue to be consistent with limits and expectations.  For example: monitoring peer groups and social life, maintaining curfew, providing responsibilities such as chores, and maintaining expectations with school and extra curricular activities.  As a teen progresses through this phase, if expectations and responsibilities are appropriately met and dealt, with parents should allow their teen increased decision making opportunities and independence.

About Steven Petrus

Dr. Steven Petrus is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in psycho-educational assessment, child, adolescent and family therapy.
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