Information for Parents
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It’s not uncommon for households with young people to experience extra stresses and dramas. The beginning of adolescence is the start of a new phase – a whole range of exciting and challenging new experiences. It can be a rollercoaster ride that puts new strains on even the most ‘together’ of families.
As well as dealing with new educational experiences, exams, social and peer pressures, teenagers have to navigate developing sexual awareness, at a time when neurological and hormonal changes can be wreaking havoc with the body. Things that seem trivial or inconsequential to adults can detonate emotional grenades from oversensitive and self-conscious teens, who have not yet developed adequate coping tools to deal with everyday challenges. Not having the ‘right thing’ to wear, a harsh word from a friend or discovering you have been left out of a group chat can be catastrophic!
Meanwhile, parents can also be concerned when their teenager spends hours in his or her room, gracing the family with only stilted and reluctant communication, whilst being fully engaged in round-the-clock conversation with friends online.
These behaviours, however, are not uncommon. In fact, they are important developmental phases in discovering self-identity and learning to be independent. It can be hard for some parents to accept, but it is important to recognise and respect a young person’s increasing need for privacy. This is all just part of the natural process of growing up and separation.
During adolescence, your child is going through massive changes, both in brain and body. Whilst managing a move to secondary school with its academic challenges and examinations, they are also navigating through new social and peer pressures – all at a time when neurological and hormonal changes can be wreaking havoc.
It’s now understood that during the teenage years the brain goes through a huge amount of rewiring. Most change takes place in the front part of the brain – the area associated with planning, problem solving, prioritising, thinking ahead, self-evaluation and emotion. Some experts estimate human brain development is not complete until around age twenty-five.
With all this change, it’s no wonder that things that seem trivial to adults can detonate emotional grenades for sensitive, self-conscious teenagers who might not have developed adequate coping tools to deal with certain stressful situations.
Bearing this in mind can help when parents and teenagers find themselves head to head, exasperated and exhausted in a chasm of misunderstanding!
It can sometimes be hard not to worry but, usually, during adolescence, ‘strange’, ‘unreasonable’ and ‘oversensitive’ behaviours are a sign of a child going through important development phases.
Though a young person might not wish to be included in as much ‘family’ activity, you should find that they are still able to engage in healthy social activity outside the home. If your child is withdrawing socially, disconnecting from old friends and seems unable or reluctant to make new ones, this may be a warning a sign that there is something more going on.
It’s perfectly normal for young people to experience episodes of sadness, anxiety, frustration and feelings of being overwhelmed. You should be concerned, however, if these episodes linger for more than a few days. If school performance drops or if your child develops persistent physical symptoms (for example, headaches, stomach cramps or sickness) and reluctance to go to school, it’s time to probe a little deeper. Similarly, take note if there are big changes in energy levels, memory and concentration, or if they become worryingly angry and aggressive or express frustration in an inappropriate physical way. If in doubt, seek further help through the organisations featured on this website.
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If you feel you need more support in coping with your own mental wellbeing please call the Kent Live Well service for adults.
If you’re seeking help for yourself, please call on 0800 567 7699 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll talk you through how we can help you and give the support and advice you need.
If you’d like to refer a friend to the service, please call on 0800 567 7699, email email@example.com or visit the website