How to understand adolescence?
“WHO defines ‘Adolescents’ as individuals in the 10-19 years age group”!
Adolescence is a phase between childhood and adulthood wherein not just physical changes but adrenaline upsurge is also taking place. It is the most crucial and tender time wherein an adolescent is trying to cope with physical maturity, relationships, expectations, career choice, value-systems, and carving self-identity.
There are changes we can visualize as soon as a child enters the adolescent phase. They are physically conscious, may become socially shy, confused, impulsive, curious, aggressive, and impressionable. They might feel unsure of the physical changes and the emotional upheaval they are going through.
Adolescence and Physical changes:
The bodily changes can ignite curiosity if they don’t know what to expect as being normal. As a parent, we can help them anticipate changes in their body and what lays ahead. Rimjhim, mother of a teenage daughter and an educator says, “Reassure them that physical changes are a part of normal and healthy development. Give them first-hand information about sexuality and bodily changes”.
Adolescence and emotions:
Adolescence is marked with emotional instability. What heralds happiness one day, might bring anguish the other day. Something so precious might not be that special tomorrow. They tend to be unpredictable in their likings, their thoughts, decisions, and the like. All credit goes to the fluctuations in their hormones. Also, the intensity of their emotions is more profound. She continues, “as a parent, try to put yourself in their shoes and empathize. Help them with guided meditation, yoga, talk to them, and help them calm them down and be more poised.”
Adolescence and Childhood:
While childhood is protected from the harsh realities and responsibilities, as a child steps into adolescence, they are expected to be more mature and responsible. This, in turn, confuses them suddenly and adds to their stress. The experiences of these years are decisive in shaping the adult-to-be. Thus parents, mentors, educators, should be sensitive enough to understand the uncertain adolescence and provide steady support, reassurance, and acceptance. The roots of relatively balanced adolescence lies in a healthy childhood atmosphere. If during childhood an individual has been encouraged to express themselves freely without guilt, or fear, then this healthy emotional development, will continue in later stages too, says Rimjhim.
To foster this attitude, parents have to have an understanding heart, sensitive to their impulsiveness and be someone, they can look up to. They need to be someone, with whom teens can open up their hearts freely, without the fear of being judged. As parents, we need to be short on criticism, and long on understanding. Be with them, Listen to them, spend time with them, and help them unwind their thoughts.
Peer group in Adolescence:
At this stage, the peer group also controls their behavior. They are more influenced by their friends, and they love to be in their company. At this time, a parent needs to counsel them in their relationships with their pals/ companions. Also, value-based life skills should be a regular practice to withstand peer pressure and reduce risky behavior. Parents should consider them as equals, from whom to take advice and discuss mature topics, rather than being an authoritative figure.
The adolescent years can feel like a roller coaster ride. By maintaining a positive and healthy parent-child relationship, it can be a joy ride for them.