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“Mom, you barely know anything about Facebook.”
“I am old enough to handle this myself.”
“It’s MY life.”
Here are some of the stereotypical phrases used by Adolescents. Well, I’m presuming that everyone knows quite well what adolescence is about. It is biologically defined as the age when one becomes pubescent and the term is usually used for the age group, 12- 18 years.
“Young adults” is what they are sometimes called, and that just becomes a sorry situation because they aren’t considered adult enough to take their own decisions, but, at the same time, are expected to behave like grownups. Everyone notices their rebellious and outspoken side, judge their indifferent behavior and criticize their ever changing romantic relationships. This is exactly the time when the so called ‘generation gap’ between parents and their adolescent kids cannot go unnoticed. People consider them to be self centered and callous. But every coin has two sides, right?
Adolescence is the most crucial stage in human development both physically and mentally. This is the time of rapid change and involves the transition from childhood to adulthood. It is as if these kids have one foot trapped in each phase. This growth is comparable to that of a huge Banyan tree, whose branches and roots spread out in all directions. During this period the changes occur not only in the body but also in the mind of the individual. They begin constructing their own morals and form firm opinions about certain things. Yet, a significant level of confusion persists in their minds as these opinions have been formed through ‘hit and trial’ and experimentation, moreover they are, rather frequently, in conflict with the beliefs they imbibed from their parents as kids.
Teens continue to develop cognitively, with increasing capacity for problem solving, decision making, and abstract thinking; however, their thinking is still more impulsive than adults; for example, the mere presence of peers can encourage them to engage in risky behavior.
According to one of the most prominent researchers in the field of Developmental Psychology, Erik Erikson, adolescence is the stage when “Identity formation” becomes a vital part in the individual’s life and to establish this individual identity, one goes through a lot of emotional torture and breakdown i.e an “identity crisis”. There develops a sense of egocentrism wherein the teens develop an imaginary world for themselves which is different from the reality. They have near-idealistic expectations from the world, and often learn the hard way, that people are nowhere near perfect.
Biology tells us that during the pre-adult period, the individual goes through a plethora of hormonal changes that result in mood imbalances. They tend to seek love from the significant people in their life and if they receive satisfaction, they can actually enjoy this phase of their lives. If only the need is understood and they are given adequate care and heed, can they build up for themselves a clear and strong identity, which helps them grow as a person. It is very true that the adolescent ‘behavior’, per say, being a visible facet of the developmental stage, becomes the prime aspect of concern. But, a greater role is also played by the manner in which these kids are treated and nurtured.
It is very important to help your teen kid deal with the complexities of the developmental stage. There happen to be instances when the decisions made by teenagers are unexpected and may upset the family members, but it should also be understood that they have a thought process of their own,and that they are just beginning to find who they really are. The process is often stressful because they experience a great deal of rejection. Teens that experience extreme level of conflict with peers and society, conflicts that include racism, severe bullying, parental rejection and neglect may be subject to anxiety , depression and disinterest in social activities and in the self.
There is always a requirement of secure parental attachment and support from close adults who can guide well and are trustworthy in the eyes of the teenager. Spending quality time with your teen kid is a vital aspect of maintaining a healthy relationship that would help guide them through this rocky phase.
It is not always required for you to keep advising. A different approach would be to just keep calm and listen to your child in order to make him feel that you care, and that they have agency. Asking questions, when something seems wrong could be a better alternative than being a shark and imposing your own thoughts on him/her. The parent should act as a thought facilitator and not merely as an instructor. According to most researchers, the Authoritative style of parenting, that is, parenting inclusive of love and warmth, has shown highly positive results on the development of the youngster. Research shows that over time, adolescents who have been reared authoritatively continue to show more success in school, better psychological development, and fewer behavioral problems than their counterparts who have experienced a childhood under harsh or ignorant parents. Youngsters whose parents are disengaged continue to show the most difficulty.
To sum it all up, in the words of Virginia Satir, “Adolescents are not monsters, they are just people trying to learn how to make it among the adults of this world who are probably not so sure themselves.”