“Adolescence is when the very worst and best impulses in the human soul struggle against each other for possession.” -G. Stanley Hall
Adolescence as a stage in life can be challenging for children and parents. It is the age between 10-19 years, and various emotional, physical, and mental changes are associated with this period. In contemporary times, this is both accompanied by the complexities of navigating social media, changing patterns of socialisation, increased exposure to choices and avenues offered across the world, and societal discourse on issues pertinent to this age.
Physical and Emotional Health
The physiological and physical changes that take place during this period can be distressing for the child. The onset of puberty is a major part of this process. Changes in the body can lead to anxiety and awkwardness. The child may become conscious about their body, which may affect their body image. Hormonal changes may lead to mood swings. Children may become more sensitive during this period and react to situations.
At this age, friends start taking precedence over family. Parents may feel that their child is becoming a bit distant. The importance of peers in an adolescent’s life may also lead to concerns about their standing amongst their peers. At the same time, they may feel pressure from friends, which can be both positive or negative. This pressure may motivate the individual to acquire new skills or affect them negatively by wanting to conform and fit in by engaging in risky behaviours.
Academic Concerns & Career Choices
This is also the age when pressure surrounding studies increases and choices about subjects and careers have to be made. These choices may lead to personal and parental conflicts. Time to engage with outdoor games and hobbies may also decrease because of this. In current times, there may also be confusion due to the myriad of choices and opinions available on the internet.
How Parents Can Help
“Adolescence is a tough time for parent and child alike. It is a time between: between childhood and maturity, between parental protection and personal responsibility, between life stage-managed by grown-ups and life privately held.” -Anna Quindlen
Parents may find this time challenging and confusing. The kind of parenting style we use has an impact on the development of the child. This is a period through which they need support, as well as the space to grow and explore on their own. The most important thing is to keep communication channels with the child open and reassure them of your unconditional love. Lending them an empathetic ear and validating their feelings goes a long way in developing a good relationship. It is also important to remember to resolve conflicts, which may invariably occur, in a mutually respectful manner. These are skills that can be developed through compassion and practice.
For more information on understanding adolescence, stay with us for an upcoming workshop for parents of children in this age group under the banner of ‘Raahein- The Positive Parenting Guide’ presented by Wellness Wise by Dr. Alka.