Middle adolescence is a stage of confusion
Their bodies are growing rapidly and maturing sexually, and they want to be independent from parents; but they need to know that an adult is still in control. It is also true that hormones can sometimes have more control of a teen’s moods than their brain does.
- Young people at this stage have a strong sense of fairness, and they become very judgmental if adults or peers do not do what is “fair”.
- A deep need for love and acceptance by parents and peers is typical, but often they hide such needs in an effort to act grown up.
- Annoying habits such as refusal to wash, poor manners and untidy dress are normal ways in which children try to become independent.
- A physical need for extended periods of rest is normal. Parents may think sleeping late on weekends and during school breaks is a sign of laziness, but most young people need more rest during this stage of development than any other since infancy, and too little rest can result in moodiness.
- While few will admit it to parents, young people at this stage find security in structure.
When setting and enforcing rules, keep these points in mind
- When a rule is presented, explain the reason for it in twenty-five words or less.
- The risks and consequences of breaking the rule should be made clear along with exactly what is not allowed.
- Recognize that you teenager’s appearance is who they are not you as a parent and set strict standards only when it’s important to you, (going out to dinner, for example).
- Try to be cheerful and ignore their moods as much as you can.
- Make sure your expectations are reasonable and praise them when they do well.
Self-care for parents - When you hear, “I’m the only one who has to…”, check out rules with other parents. You are not the “meanest parent in the world.” Remember when you were a teen and all the scary and confusing feelings you had.
If you have concerns about your child’s development at any stage, visit your pediatrician or local clinic.