For some parents, the word “teenager” is synonymous with “caution.” As a parent, you’ve lived through late-night feedings and temper tantrums. Now that your child is entering adolescence, their needs are changing. What early adolescence milestones should you prepare for, and how can you help your teens thrive through them?
You teens will experience physical changes
The first thing you need to prepare for is the physical changes they’ll go through.
Girls will start growing breasts and body hair, and experience changes in their weight and height. Furthermore, they will soon have their menstruation, so prepare the topics you’ll need to discuss with them regarding their first period.
On the other hand, boys will start experiencing body hair growth, voice changes, and weight and height development. Moreover, they’ll soon begin having erections. Adolescence is likewise the time for many boys to undergo circumcision.
- Help them anticipate these body changes.
- Refrain from showing awkwardness when you talk about their concerns. This will encourage them to list potential adolescent problems, such as acne breakouts and an unexpected erections.
- Watch out for signs of distress secondary to their body changes.
They are likely to push for independence
Another notable thing about early adolescence milestones is their need for autonomy. This need is usually why many people view the teenage years as the “rebellious” stage.
However, being rebellious is not characteristic of most teens. According to experts, your child is just trying to do things independently, so they seem to be “pulling away” from you.
- Remember that teens can have more responsibilities, so it’s okay to expand the limits you set in some areas of their life.
- Set reasonable limits and hold them accountable for breaking the rules. For instance, you can let them have their social media account; however, they can only add people who they know in person.
- Expect (and accept) that your teen’s opinions may be different from yours.
Prepare for emotional and social changes
The early adolescence milestones include not just physical changes, but emotional and social as well. They may start showing intense feelings and emotional ups and downs. Socially, they may search for their identity.
As such, they might go through a phase of acting without thinking. In searching for their identity, your teenager may decide to color their hair, wear unconventional clothes, or join a new set of friends.
Before saying no to their decisions, remember that your teenager is still forming their identity. They are also still learning to distinguish between right or wrong. Moreover, they are just beginning to realize that actions have consequences.
- Pick your battles from time to time. According to experts, it may be a good idea to let your child do harmless and temporary things like painting their nails black. Consider saving your arguments to things that really matter, such as alcohol and substance abuse, and permanent body changes, like tattoos.
- Be on the lookout for risky behaviors, such as getting into fights and lying. There could be concerning reasons behind them.
Trust your child and respect their privacy
Perhaps, giving your child privacy is one of the most challenging aspects of parenting a teenager.
Since young teens are essentially still kids, some parents feel like everything should be their business. However, remember that you are preparing them to be adults. For this reason, you need to grant them some privacy.
- Avoid reading their messages, e-mails, and texts. Likewise, please don’t listen to their phone calls.
- Of course, you can invade their privacy if you suspect they are in serious trouble.
- Ask only for crucial details, like where they are going, when they’ll be back, what they’ll be doing, and who they are with.
- Talk to them often, but don’t ask for every single detail of their activities.
Watch out for health risks
Finally, early adolescence milestones come with potential health risks, such as alcohol or substance use, cigarette smoking, and depression.
Watch out for the following red flags:
- Poor academic performance
- Sleep problems
- Apparent changes in behavior and personality
- Talk and jokes about suicide
- Signs of tobacco, alcohol, and drug use
- Run-ins with authoritative figures
The adolescent problem list may seem never-ending at first, but they can still become responsible, communicative, and independent adults with your patient and consistent guidance.
Learn more about Mental Health for Adolescents here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.