Your child will face many physical and emotional changes as they enter adolescence. Learn what changes to expect and how to support your child during this important time.
The teen years are an important time of growth and development. Anyone with teenagers in the house knows how quickly their moods can change, or how conversations can sometimes be challenging. Dr. Karen Browner-Elhanan, who specializes in adolescent medicine with Renown Medical Group – Pediatrics, answers our questions about ways to relate to and connect with your teenager.
Why is support during adolescence especially important for children?
Some people might assume that family becomes less important to children during adolescence, but this is a time when love and support is vital. During adolescence, children are going through a lot of physical changes, as well as many emotional ups and downs. It can be difficult for a teenager to understand exactly where they fit and peer influences and relationships can bring added stress.
The family relationships will likely change during adolescence. When your child was younger, you nurtured and guided them. With a teenager, you might find your relationship becoming more equal. Even when your teen seems moody or uncommunicative, they still need you. You can provide the secure emotional base for your teen, giving them confidence, self-belief and identity, at a time when many other things in their life are confusing or uncomfortable.
What are some of the physical and emotional changes that occur?
This time in an adolescent’s life is known as puberty, when a child moves through many natural and healthy changes. Puberty usually starts around age 10-11 for girls and 11-13 for boys, but it’s important to remember every child is different.
Physical changes include:
- Height and weight
- Physical strength
- Sleep patterns
- Body odor
- Skin and hair
Social and emotional changes may include:
- Sense of responsibility
- Moods and feelings
What are some barriers to relating to your teenager?
One mistake parents make when it comes to their teens is not being honest with themselves about how they already feel about topics involving teens, including sex, driving and alcohol and drug use. This can close the line of communication if the teen feels they will be shut down before being able to say what they want to communicate. It might not be easy, but try putting yourself in your teen’s shoes and remember when you were their age.
Another barrier is speaking too much and not allowing your child to fully communicate their thoughts and feelings. It might be tempting to tell your child what to do because you’ve been there before, but often it can be better just to listen and ask if they’d like your advice. Choosing the right environment for these conversations is important.
Find out how your teen likes to communicate. Is it while cooking dinner or driving? Or does it need to be in a quiet place with zero distractions?
What are some tips for building a positive relationship with your teen?
The simple, everyday things we do as families can help build and sustain strong family relationships, including:
- Regular family meals
- Fun family outings
- One-on-one time
- Family traditions
- Household responsibilities
- Limits and consequences
If your family needs additional resources, Renown Pediatric Behavioral Health is available by appointment by calling 775-982-3970.