Parenting Adolescents - Helping Kids Cope with their Changing Bodies
Parenting adolescents ...
... is complicated by the fact that by the time parents have teens, they have forgotten what this time is like. In this article, we'll take a look at the physical changes of adolescence, so that you can better help your child get through what most adults, if they're honest, would prefer to forget and remember as an awkward, confusing and painful time.
Adolescent Physical Development
The hallmark of adolescence is puberty which typically has its onset from between ages 11-13, although there are children who start earlier and later. (Going through puberty earlier or later than your peers can be a big source of pain, humiliation and embarrassment.) The first sign that a child has entered puberty is often a growth spurt. Other changes may not be so obvious, unless you regularly see your children without their clothes which at this stage of development is not appropriate for many reasons.
Boys and girls go through different changes during puberty. Parenting adolescents requires understanding these physical changes and being sensitive to the challenges your child is facing particularly if he or she is being teased by peers for being different in any way from everybody else. Typically, girls go through the changes of puberty in about two years, while boys usually take much longer. Although the research says that most boys stop developing at age 18, there are men in my family who continued to grow and develop in college.
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Parenting Adolescents: Boys
- Hair grows in pubic area and under arms
- Larynx grows and voice deepens
- Second molars come in
- Muscles thicken, shoulders widen, neck gets bigger
- Perspiration increases and signs of body odor
- Hair grows on face and torso
- Testicles and penis grow; involuntary ejaculations
- Growth spurt in terms of height and weight
Girls Growth and Development During Puberty
- Overall increase in body fat
- Voice lowers somewhat
- Larynx grows (but not as much as boys)
- Second molars come in
- Hips widen
- Increased perspiration
- Increase in height
- Menstruation begins
- Hair grows on face and torso
- Ovaries and uterus grow, breasts develop
While some adolescents may be thrilled about some of these changes, others might be distressed. Girls especially might feel depressed about the widening of their hips or lack of breast development. Boys might be upset that their peers are shooting up, while they haven't had their growth spurt. Another concern for teens is acne which can change their self-perception and make introverts of extroverts.
Parenting adolescents requires being sensitive to what your child needs from you. Make sure to emphasize that everyone grows at their own rate. Some kids grow quickly and then stop, while grow more slowly, especially when it comes to boys. Although most likely, your child's development will mimic that of you or your spouse, do not minimize the impact that these changes have on your child.
Here's how you can help:
- Connect with your teen by telling stories about your own adolescence. Share your awkwardness, the ways in which you were teased and some of your most embarrassing moments. One way we bond to each other is by sharing our stories. Also, it may help your teen to know that the awkward teen years have been happening since the beginning of time.
- If your teenager has a bad case of acne, get help. Since acne drugs can have unpleasant side effects, use holistic preparations. I researched and purchased two products for my teenage son that have cleared up his skin - MediAc and ClearSkin-A Acne Gel.
- Allow your teenager to spend time with close friends who can be a source of comfort, camaraderie and support.
- Remind your teen again and again that each person develops in their own time and their own way.
- Never discount what your teen is going through. Remember that teens do not have the coping skills or brain development to handle everything they face.
- Be there for support.
- Create one-on-one time when your adolescent might be more open to sharing what is happening in his or her life. My son and I have had some of our most intimate conversations about what is going on at school and with his friends on our daily drive to and from school because it's just the two of us.
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About the author: Laura Ramirez is the author of the award-winning parenting book Keepers of the Children. This unique parenting book uses native ideas to teach parents how to raise children to lead a life that is an expression of their natural strengths and talents. It's a journey of becoming for child and parent. While you're child still lives in your home, it is never too late to become a good parent.
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