But it's important to make a somewhat artificial distinction between puberty and adolescence.
Most of us think of puberty as the development of adult sexual characteristics: These are certainly the most visible signs of puberty and impending adulthood, but kids who are showing physical changes between the ages of 8 and 14 or so also can be going through a bunch of changes that aren't readily seen from the outside. These are the changes of adolescence.
When you consider that the teen years are a period of intense growth, not only physically but emotionally and intellectually, it's understandable that it's a time of . Being a teenage parent has benefits and challenges. because your own body is still growing and developing.
Many kids announce the onset of adolescence with a dramatic change in behavior around their parents. They're starting to separate from mom and dad and become more independent.
Decide rules and discipline in advance. Most things about your teenager's world are changing. Just drop your end of the rope. Let kids feel guilty. I HAVE not birthed a child, held one in my arms, and felt what it is like to see my own creation. Remember your struggles with acne or your embarrassment at developing early — or late. Any other inappropriate behavior that lasts for more than 6 weeks can be a sign of underlying trouble, too.
At the same time, kids this age are increasingly aware of how others, especially their peers, see them and are desperately trying to fit in. Kids often start "trying on" different looks and identities, and they become very aware of how they differ from their peers, which can result in episodes of distress and conflict with parents. One of the common stereotypes of adolescence is the rebellious, wild teen continually at odds with mom and dad. Although it may be the case for some kids and this is a time of emotional ups and downs, that stereotype certainly is not representative of most teens.
But the primary goal of the teen years is to achieve independence. To do this, teens must start pulling away from their parents — especially the parent whom they're the closest to. As teens mature, they start to think more abstractly and rationally. They're forming their moral code. And parents of teens may find that kids who previously had been willing to conform to please them will suddenly begin asserting themselves — and their opinions — strongly and rebelling against parental control. You may need to look closely at how much room you give your teen to be an individual and ask yourself questions such as: Read books about teenagers.
Think back on your own teen years. Remember your struggles with acne or your embarrassment at developing early — or late.
Expect some mood changes in your typically sunny child, and be prepared for more conflict as he or she matures as an individual. Parents who know what's coming can cope with it better. And the more you know, the better you can prepare. Starting to talk about menstruation or wet dreams after they've already begun is starting too late. But don't overload them with information — just answer their questions. You know your kids.
You can hear when your child's starting to tell jokes about sex or when attention to personal appearance is increasing. This is a good time to jump in with your own questions such as:. A yearly physical exam is a great time to talk about this. A doctor can tell your preadolescent — and you — what to expect in the next few years.
The later you wait to have these talks, the more likely your child will be to form misconceptions or become embarrassed about or afraid of physical and emotional changes. And the earlier you open the lines of communication, the better your chances of keeping them open through the teen years. Give your child books on puberty written for kids going through it. Share memories of your own adolescence. There's nothing like knowing that mom or dad went through it, too, to put kids more at ease.
Practice empathy by helping your child understand that it's normal to be a bit concerned or self-conscious, and that it's OK to feel grown-up one minute and like a kid the next. If teenagers want to dye their hair, paint their fingernails black, or wear funky clothes, think twice before you object.
Ask why your teen wants to dress or look a certain way and try to understand how your teen is feeling. You also might want to discuss how others might perceive them if they look different — help your teen understand how he or she might be viewed. Still, they usually understand and need to know that their parents care enough about them to expect certain things such as good grades, acceptable behavior, and sticking to the house rules. If parents have appropriate expectations, teens will likely try to meet them.
Without reasonable expectations, your teen may feel you don't care about him or her. The teen years often are a time of experimentation, and sometimes that experimentation includes risky behaviors.
Don't avoid the subjects of sex and drug, alcohol, or tobacco use. This emotional separation allows them to become well-adjusted adults. Yet these must be among the most difficult years for any parent. To help with parenting tips, WebMD turned to three national experts:. Give kids some leeway. Giving teens a chance to establish their own identity, giving them more independence, is essential to helping them establish their own place in the world. Choose your battles wisely. Invite their friends for dinner. It helps to meet kids you have questions about.
When kids see them, see how their friends act with their parents, they can get a better sense of those friends," Elkind tells WebMD.
If you flatly say, you can't go out with those kids, it often can backfire -- it just increases the antagonism. Decide rules and discipline in advance. Whether you ban them from driving for a week or a month, whether you ground them for a week, cut back on their allowance or Internet use -- whatever -- set it in advance.
If the kid says it isn't fair, then you have to agree on what is fair punishment. Then, follow through with the consequences. That's part of responsible parenting. If it feels necessary, require them to call you during the evening, to check in. But that depends on the teen, how responsible they have been. Talk to teens about risks.
Whether it's drugs, driving, or premarital sex , your kids need to know the worst that could happen. Give teens a game plan. Or make sure they have cab fare. Come up with a solution that feels comfortable for that child.