Adolescent psychology is an interesting time of growth, change and challenges! Understanding the mental and emotional changes your teenager faces will help
you to better support them. Along the way look out for our Tips, ideas you can use to inspire you.
Understanding Your Teenager
Visit our pages about Adolescence and Physical Development to find out more about
sexuality, relationships and physical developemental tips.
You would be forgiven for thinking the telephone has grown into your teenager's ear! But talking on the phone is one way teens develop their social skills.
Similarly online social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter, provide places where your adolescent develops his identity.
Teenage Identity and Social Relationships
Exploring different clothes, make-up, hairstyles and developing new hobbies and taste in music is all part of the wonderful mix that starts to add a
richness to your child. Your adolescent may get involved in political, environmental or human rights issues as they develop their ideas of right and wrong.
When your kids and teens show an interest in something, help them to find out about it.
The more things they try and experience, the more they learn what they are passionate about.
It saddens me when parents get annoyed when kids don't stick at something. "All those lessons I paid for so he could learn the piano, and he never practices."
So what? Maybe he hates the boredom of scales and repetitions, maybe he will come back to music later, maybe he learned he would rather try the guitar,
maybe he learned to read music, maybe he learned about other kinds of music? It doesn't mean he has to do it all his life.
There are BILLIONS of things out there to experience, Why do we have this belief we have to stick at something?
"Life wasn't meant to be easy..... you've got to work hard to succeed...... Lots of kids would be grateful for piano lessons....." Chuck those thoughts away!
As your adolescent develops his own opinions they start to questions rules and restrictions.
You will find your limits tested on more than one occasion!
Unfortunately many parents get stuck in "I know whats right for you", and find it hard to let go and trust your good work over the years will be bearing fruit!
The Know It All Teen!
Your child is going to make mistakes. They need to learn what they Don't want to get clearer on what they do want - even if they already think they know it all!
If you protect them and make decisions "for their own good" you are robbing them of the opportunity to grow.
Adolescent psychology is at the stage now, where they rely less on family and want to spend more time with friends, foraying out into the big wide world.
One of the most important developmental aspects of adolescent psychology is the increasing importance of their peer group
Your teenager will be looking to her peer group for much of her sense of identity.
But make sure you have other adults around who inspire and affirm them.
Often Mum and Dad are not cool and your sage words of advice will be ignored.
You have a Huge investment in your teenager doing it right for you, and will often inadvertently be critical.
A respected adult friend, teacher, relative can often pop a few words of wisdom into the mix that kids or teens will take on board.
Learning to make decisions is one of the important skills in this psychological stage of adolescence.
I talked about aged based decisions
in my article on Preschoolers. Giving children responsibility for the number of daily decisions based on their age.
Kids and teens are obviously going to be making more complex decisions than a preschooler,
although there are some similarities!
What to wear is as much a major decision for a two year old as a fifteen year old, but for completely different reasons!
For a two year old it is a time of learning to make choices, the pink pants or the green pants? For the teenager,
it is far more about self esteem and finding her place in the social grouping. Being cool becomes of vital importance.
So the challenge as a parent is to allow your child the space to work their way through the angst of having to look right and empowering them to love who they are.
This is where your groundwork with them as a preschooler has paid off! A child who has already developed a healthy self esteem and confidence
will move from kid to teen, with far more ease than one whose self esteem is fragile.
Younger teenagers still tend to see things in black or white. They are just developing the ability to think outside the box.
As they get older they develop better strategies and start to recognize the consequences of their actions.
Young teenagers often appear very self-centred and selfish. But as they get older they develop more empathy with others and can put themselves in other's shoes.
With maturing adolescent psychology, your teen will get better at solving problems and start to appreciate the opinions of others.
Teach your child to brainstorm, particularly if they are feeling stuck in how to handle a situation or making a decision.
You can contribute ideas, but DON'T critique anything on the list. The idea is to get as many possibilities written down as possible, no matter how stupid.
Then trust that your teenager can narrow down the options or try out several choices to test it out.
If you try to analyze it and work out the solution you are holding your adolescent back from testing it out for himself.
I'm a fixer-upper! I can always see solutions and am itching to suggest a better way to do something! (Drives my husband crazy!)
But you disempower people by not letting them solve their own problems.
I believe there is far too much pressure on adolescents to make major decisions about their future career.
How many of you are doing what you decided to do as a sixteen year old?
Sure there are the few children or adolescents who have always dreamed of becoming a vet or a nurse, but most teens don't have a clue.
Looking to the future
I think there's too much emphasis placed on learning things by rote that you don't really care about.
So what happens to students in school - is that they eventually lose interest in learning, because they've been forced to learn the required courses,
rather than pursing their passion.
The work environment is changing so rapidly, making a major commitment to narrow down to slot into a career, may not be such a good idea.
The best thing teenagers can do is learn to learn. Knowing how to research something is the best skill they can develop.
You can always learn how to do something new if you are are open to learning and you know how to find things out.
Encourage daydreaming (how often did I get told off in school for being a daydreamer!)
Teenagers need lots of thinking and daydreaming time, imagining their life ahead, seeing themselves into the future.
Take them to talk to people in fields they maybe interested in, not just career orientated but people who do volunteering work.
Encourage your teenager to imagine as many possible future selves as they can dream.
Many young people leave high school with very few alternatives.
Learning to think outside the box and be flexible will better prepare them for noticing to all the doors that the Universe opens.
It is great to have a BIG dream and go for BIG goals, but if we teach our children to focus exclusively on one goal,
there may well be a multitude of possibilities they miss. There are always endless opportunities and possibilities.
Part of the development in adolescent psychology is learning to self regulate and develop morality.
But there has to be something for your teenager to test against! Kids need to know the safety of some rules and guidelines.
What is often trying for parents, your teenager needs to be able to push the boundaries.
Limits and Boundaries
As they test you, remember:
- Reasonable boundaries show you care about them and their wellbeing.
- They learn to challenge power and authority within the safety of being loved.
- Be flexible - they need to learn that your power and authority shifts to them as they develop self responsibility.
- Question your rules constantly, are they really important, ie life threatening!
Try to develop your family rules in consultation with your teenager.
Empower them to think about what they consider is reasonable. Teach them to negotiate - you give a little and they give a little.
If they have participated in the rulemaking they are far more likely to respect them.
Quite frankly I think the more rules you try to impose, the more they will have to challenge!
Really question yourself as to whether a rule is important or not. A very tricky one is Drugs.
Most parents don't want their kids to get anywhere near drugs and the media would have us believe our teenagers will be lead astray at every turn.
I tend to believe in education rather than countless rules. The more informed your teenager is, the better choices they will make.
And, they will be more likely to talk to you if it isn't one of your "No Nos".
Most parents drink alcohol and yet we expect our adolescents to stay away from any substances at a time in their life when they are at their most experimental.
Personally I think you are better off accepting your child is quite likely to try something at some stage and if they have the information of the
risks then they will handle it better. Or they will feel they can call you for help if they are out of their depth.
Be prepared to be a taxi driver! My kids alway knew they had me as a safe backup, that no matter what,
I would always come and get them. My second husband (we weren't married at that point) had just moved in with a Van!
So we became the neighbourhood teenage delivery service. I was amazed at how many of my daughter's friends had no arrangement for getting home late at night.
Your kids will deal with difficult situations easier if they know they can fall back on you.
I think my daughter often got out of tricky situations by blaming me! "Mum's coming to pick me up".
The best thing you can do is keep the communication open, and that doesn't mean YOU doing the talking!
It means listening, and then listening some more. One of the great things about being a teenage taxi driver is they are trapped in the car with you!
And given the space you will be surprised what they talk to you about.
Over all the years of parenting, the two stages that seem to be the most challenging are the "terrible twos" and developmental years of adolescent psychology.
Let go and just love them!
By understanding a little more of what your child is learning as they move from kid to teen, and by questioning your own beliefs about what you expect,
then this time in your parenting can be wonderful. Seeing your teenager become more adult-like and seeing the world through their eyes can be such a joy.
Make every moment count, get alongside your child and be the loving witness to them becoming all they can be.
Go from Adolescent Psychology to Physical Development In Adolescence
Information about Physical Development and Sexuality in Teenagers and more tips to inspire you.
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Love is the ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves without any insistence that they satisfy you.
Dr Wayne Dyer
Super Skills 4 Kids
As a Parent Coach, I love empowering
and inspiring parents, but it is much more
rewarding to see children learning skills
that will set them up for life.
Power Thought Cards For Teens
are an inspiring gift for a teenager.
I've used these in workshops, or as a teaching resource for teenagers.
Have each teen hold the cards in their hands, shuffle them and ask for the best card to come to them.
You can either give the card away to each teen, or let them choose a card that calls to them, and use it as a discussion point.
They can be a good discussion topic round the dinner table, and my kids loved giving them away.
More Resources For Parents Of Adolescents
Ask Annie Questions About Teenagers
Ask Annie is our Online Parent Coaching. Ask questions about adolescent psychology, discipline issues, relationships or teenage sexuality,
or read and comment on the questions other parents are asking.
Super Skills 4 Kids
Is our home study course designed to help kids and teenagers set goals, envision the future they want,
and achieve anything! If a teenager wants to work on a time management, or handling stress, Super Skills is a perfect tool.
Super Skills 4 Kids is packed with tools, case studies and comes with a bonus workbook.
I've had many parents say they use many of the techniques for themselves!
Teenage years can be a delight and a challenge for many parents. Heres some ideas on handling some of those tricky times!
This Audio answers questions from readers about communicating with teenagers. You can listen to it here and ask your own questions about adolescent psychology or teenage issues.
For more ideas on how to discipline a child read my article on disciplining kids and teens.
More ideas on handling misbehaving children, and understanding their needs.
One of the keys to understanding child behaviour, is understanding what is appropriate for the child's age. Click here for an overview with links to more in depth stages.