Understanding and supporting teens

Adolescence is a period of life when the skills and knowledge necessary for adulthood are gained, and is an important time for brain development. New ways of relating to others are developed and a self-identity is formed.

Adolescence can be difficult and confusing for children and carers. Teenagers go through rapid physical and emotional changes. Teenagers tend to move between wanting more freedom and still needing the security of their family. Parents and carers want children to grow up to become well-adjusted and independent young people, yet fear for their safety as they find their place in the world.

Adolescents need to make choices. Sometimes they want to be the same as their peers, and sometimes they feel very different from everyone around them. Generally, they are curious about the world but are not orientated towards the future. Peer networks and friendships are extremely important at this stage and will often take priority over everything else.

As adolescence progresses, the relationship moves from that of parent/carer and child to one resembling more an adult to adult relationship. It is necessary, however, to continue to give structure, guidance, and support to adolescents while allowing them room to practice making their own decisions.

They need support and opportunities to talk openly and honestly about how they feel, and to have their feelings and concerns acknowledged. A good relationship and good communication with teenagers will help you both cope with the challenges of this stage of development.

The following are some suggestions which will help create and maintain strong and supportive relationships with teenagers

  • Spend time with them
  • Understand their need for independence
  • Respect their privacy
  • Show an interest in them
  • Have clear rules and boundaries
  • Listen to them
  • Show your respect for them
  • Create positive memories

Talk to your care team if you need further advice or support supporting teenagers.

You can find some helpful resources on these websites.

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