Adolescent questions abound! As a mother of a toddler, I have friends with children in the adolescent stage. I often wonder what is in store for me. Adolescence is the period from 10 to 20 years. This period is rightly known as transformational period as one progresses from childhood to adulthood.
As a parent, I would tend to describe this phase of my child’s life as difficult, overwhelming and stressful. A little knowledge of adolescent psychology might, however, make this period easier. Not just me but for you and your child. This article is only going to focus on two elements an adolescent might be going through. As with any transitional period in a person’s life each individual will experience something unique to themselves.
Adolescent Question #1 – Sexual Awakening
The most important aspect of adolescent psychology is perhaps the sexual awakening that accompanies this phase. A lot of parents still find it difficult to deal with the subject. However, awareness of your own sexuality and a growing interest in the opposite sex is a natural biological phase. A friend of mine who is a child psychologist made the recommendation to me when I become a mother; and it was about providing a fact based opportunity to learn about sex. When will allow my children to have a healthy start to the their adolescent stage. Ensuring the ‘truth’ versus ‘fable’ scenario is actually all about facts; it is wise to have a book on sex on a book shelf. And yes readily available for my children to thumb through.
At first this suggestion took me a step backward but then they explain the philosophy behind the recommendation. It was explained like this:
When a child sees a book on the shelf discussing sex, the book immediately reinforces that sex and sexual behaviour is a natural part of life, growing up and being educated. If a child actually opens the book to thumb through it, it represents that he wants to know ‘truth’ of a subject and not rely on friends and the ‘street’ to educate him on important subjects. When you as a parent do not react to their reading said book, then you reinforce that this is a mature subject and one that is open to being discussed in your home and that in fact, you support your child in learning the truth about such subjects.
Now I have 2 children, guess what book sits out in the open on the top of my filing cabinet; well within reach of my toddler’s inquisitive eyes? A book about sex, actually the Idiot’s Guide to be exact. Has either of them reached for it yet? Nope. But I am sure the day is not long off. And I am getting mentally as well as emotionally ready for the day.
Adolescent Questions #2 – Rebellious Nature
What some parents consider typical ‘adolescent rebelliousness’ may have more to do with finding one’s own identity and place than actually rebelling. The hormonal changes can cause a teenager to feel exaggerated emotions; perhaps make this search for their identity and independence appear more aggressive to parents. Often, in their desire to find their footing in their own world, teenagers mistake any form of advice as interference. Thus making their parents feel alienated and sometimes even helpless.
This is also a period when peer pressure is at its peak. As a result of which recognition and acceptance become the two most important goals in your adolescent’s life. One of the critical pieces to ensuring your adolescent is able to withstand the pressure is having an open communication with their parents or guardians. Having the confidence they can speak to their parents about anything and any topic is critical. The easily and with honesty part can be challenging though. Input and feedback will allow your child to respond to pressure with confidence in themselves. And confidence knowing their parents trust their decisions and will support them through whatever the outcomes may be.
Adolescent Questions #3 – Decision Making
These points of course describe only the main elements of adolescent psychology theoretically. Most psychologists believe that while sexual awakening, confusions and emotional exaggeration are natural aspects of adolescence; the extent and degree to which your adolescent experiences them depends on his/her culture and upbringing.
Admittedly, these years are in many ways life changing. It is during adolescence people make many crucial decisions about their life. The choices made, experiences, and relationships they develop often end up changing the course of an individual’s life. As a parent, your concern is genuine. It is also important to understand your openness, understanding and compassion can empower your adolescent to make positive decisions.
There are many resources available to you and your child. Be sure to reach out and seek any support you need during this major life transition; for you and your child. I am not a psychologist, counselor, therapist or social worker but you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll have a few of those individuals on speed dial when my children become adolescents. I am also pretty sure the adolescents questions I have will be more than just these three topics.