As scary as it is exciting, this is the time for teenagers to face the end of their childhood while they prepare for becoming a legal adult, handling all of the responsibilities that entails. The main goal for this age group is understanding the intricacies of the world and how they fit into it. Older teens develop more philosophical, idealistic attitudes as well as a greater desire to seek the meaning of life and to search for a personal cause. These changes are due to advancements in abstract and hypothetical thought, exploration of self-identity, and a deeper sense of morality. Still very future-oriented, they are drawn to adventure but value independence above all. Frequently, teens at this age consider themselves to be fully matured and want to be treated as such. It isn’t uncommon for them to be referred to as stubborn and arrogant. They crave power and control, often driving them into leadership positions. But at the end of the day, these same teens still want the support of their parents.

Tip:

It can be easy to write-off your child as an irritating know-it-all and either throw your hands up or fight even harder to regain control. Try to avoid either extreme. This is a unique time for renegotiating your relationship. While some separation is necessary as your child becomes more autonomous, maintaining a connection is still valuable. Despite what your child may think, you do have insight and experience about the world and who your child is, as a unique person, all of which will be useful during this transition into adulthood. Be patient, and remember: the day they realize you aren’t as stupid as they once thought is not that far off!
In general, development is getting much more subtle. Though some aspects of brain growth continue into young adulthood, physical growth has mostly finished, hopefully making them less self-conscious and more self-confident regarding their bodies. Socially, a stronger sense of identity leads to a higher level of comfort in being an individual. While social intimacy in the form of friendships and romantic relationships remains important, things like peer pressure and the need to belong to certain cliques become less relevant. Increased moral reasoning prompts teenagers to become more compassionate and conscientious. This will shape their plans for their future as well as shape who they are in all their roles – friend, romantic partner, family member, student, worker, and so on. Whether your child chooses to begin college or enter the workforce, life experiences such as graduating high school and maybe moving away from home for the first time will inevitably lead to greater knowledge and maturity.

Tip:

Allowing your kids to encounter and figure out how to navigate new situations is essential. Even difficult events can have positive, much-needed effects through increasing resilience and providing efficient coping strategies.

Development content was created by Jennifer Dunn, child development specialist.