Adolescence: A Guide for Parents

Thursday, March 24, 20110 comments

What should I know about adolescence?

  • Kids ages 12-21 are considered adolescents.
  • At this stage, kids are going though a lot of physical and emotional changes.
  • The changes are often scary and confusing to the kids and parents.
  • Most children will experience puberty between these ages. During puberty, a child's body begins growing into that of a man or a woman.
  • Kids start thinking more about how others see them.
  • Kids at this age often think they can't be hurt. They have the idea that "it can't happen to me."

What kinds of changes can I expect?

  • Adolescence is a time when children begin making their own decisions.
  • They explore their independence.
  • They begin separating from their parents.
  • They like to spend time alone.
  • Kids at this age will likely want to experiment with the latest trends.
  • They often test new ideas and try new activities.
  • Their friends are a big part of their lives and influence their decisions.
  • Your child will start to feel sexual attractions.

What limits should there be?
Your child will want more freedom and independence. Trust him to make some of his own decisions. However, certain behaviors are never okay for a child of any age. Your child does not have a choice when his health, safety, or future could be hurt. For example:

  • Using drugs and tobacco is not acceptable.
  • Your child cannot ride in the car with people who have been drinking.
  • Your child needs to go to school. School prepares him to work and earn a living.

Other issues are negotiable (you and your child can decide what is okay and not okay) such as dyeing his hair purple or not making the bed.

How can we communicate and deal with conflicts?

  • Listen to your child.
  • Show interest in your child. Don't wait for a problem to communicate.
  • Let the little things go. Save your patience and energy for bigger issues.
  • Focus on reaching a common goal instead of controlling how your child gets there. If your child prefers to watch TV before he starts his homework, do not insist that he begin right after school. Praise him for getting it done each night.
  • Do not nag. Kids will ignore your nagging and may also start ignoring the more important things you need them to hear.

What are some issues we should discuss?
Don't avoid talking about drugs, alcohol, smoking, sex, and the latest trends. Bring these issues up before your child asks and before they become a problem.

Piercings and Tattoos
  • Kids today get piercings in many places, such as the ears, nose, belly button, tongue, lip, eyebrow, and nipple. Some even get piercings on the genitals, knuckles, or chin.
  • Getting tattoos is also common.
  • Set a waiting period for your child-- a time when he must think about if he really wants a piercing or tattoo.
  • Talk to him about the risks. They could get an infection, such as hepatitis or HIV, when it is being done.
  • After, it is easily infected with germs. The area must be cleaned with soap and warm water every day.
  • Have him talk to friends who have piercings and tattoos. What are the good and bad sides to having it done?
  • Help him find a safe place to have it done. Do not let him do it himself or have a friend do it.
  • Your child will start to feel sexual attractions.
  • He will hear about sex at school and from the media.
  • Clear up any misinformation and confusion. Let him ask you questions.
  • Teach your child the risks that are involved with having sex, such as the chance of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (such as HIV).
  • Ask your child to consider if he is ready. His body may feel ready, but is he emotionally ready?
  • Discuss your own standards and feelings about him having sex, but don't nag.
  • Discuss abstinence as a good option and choice.
  • Your child may still decide to have sex.
  • Make sure your child knows how to have safe sex. Discuss birth control, contraceptives, and condoms. Give facts.
  • Accept his interest in sex. Do not make him feel ashamed. Reassure him that his feelings are normal.
Drugs, Alcohol, and Smoking
  • Set clear rules.
  • Decide what will happen if the rules are broken.
  • Talk about the risks of smoking and using drugs or alcohol.
  • Your child must never drink and drive.
  • Your child must never ride in the car with someone who has been drinking.
  • Let your child call you if he needs a ride. Do not punish him that night. Talk about it the next day. Tell him he made the right decision to call you.

What are some warning signs that my child is in trouble?
During adolescence, common problems include depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, stress, or problems with school, friends, or family. If your child shows one of these signs, find out what's going on.

  • Noticeable weight loss or weight gain.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Change in friends.
  • Drastic changes in behavior.
  • Skipping school.
  • Falling grades.
  • Depression.
  • Talk of suicide. ANY talk, even jokes, is cause for concern.
  • Symptoms of substance abuse.
  • Problems with the law.

What are some tips for parents?

  • Be involved.
  • Be an example. Show your child good ways to have fun, deal with stress, and make decisions.
  • Read books about adolescence. It will help you know what to expect and prepare you for conflicts. You'll be able to answer your child's questions if he comes to you.
  • Keep your standards consistent. If your teen skips school, don't assume "he's just going through a stage." Your child's age is not an excuse for inappropriate behavior.
  • Get to know your child's friends and their parents. Work together with other parents to keep track of your teens. Don't invade their space, just be observant.
  • Respect your child's privacy. At this age, your child will want some time and space to be alone. His bedroom and phone calls should be private.
  • Have a good idea of what your child is reading, watching on TV, and viewing on the Internet. What kinds of video games does he play? Who does he talk to on the Internet?
  • Your child learns from the media. Clear up any misinformation.
  • Find out where your child is going and who he will be with but do not expect him to give you all of the details of his activities.
  • You must keep your child safe and healthy. It's okay to get more involved if you suspect there is a problem.

What can I do to make the relationship better?
If you're having problems with your child, try changing your own behavior instead of trying to control your child's. The following questions might help you:

  • Are you a controlling parent? Have you given your child a chance to prove that you can trust him?
  • Are you a good listener?
  • Do you accept and show interest in your child's interests and opinions, even if they differ from your own?
  • What things bothered you when you were your child's age?
  • Are you involved with your child's life, even when there is not a problem?
  • Do you give your child time and space to be alone?
  • Do you notice the good things that your child does and reward him?

When should I call the doctor?

  • Talk of suicide must never be ignored. It is cause for immediate concern. Talk to the doctor if you need help addressing this issue with your child.
  • Call the doctor if you are concerned about any of your child's behavior listed under "Warning signs" above.
  • Parenting is a tough job. Call your doctor for help and suggestions.
  • Call if you have questions or concerns about your child's condition or behavior.

Quick Answers

  • Kids ages 12-21 are considered adolescents. At this age, kids are going though a lot of physical and emotional changes.
  • Adolescence is a time when children begin building independence and making their own decisions.
  • Give your child freedoms but set limits. He has no choice when his health, safety, or future could be hurt.
  • Show interest in your child. Don't wait for a problem to communicate.
  • Talk about drugs, alcohol, smoking, sex, and the latest trends.
  • Watch for signs that your child needs help. This includes weight loss or weight gain, changes in behavior, falling grades, signs of substance abuse, and talk of suicide.
  • Respect your child's privacy. Give him his own space and time alone.
  • If you're having problems with your child, try changing your own behavior.
  • Parenting is a tough job. Call your doctor for help and suggestions.


  • Ipp, m. Body Modification: Adolescent Piercing and Tattooing. 1997 April (cited 2002 January 23). URL
  • MEDLINEplus. Adolescent Development. 2001 August 08 (cited 2002 January 23). URL: http://www.nlm.nih.ov/medlineplus/ency/article/002003.htm
  • Rhode Island Department of Health. Be There for Teens: A Guide for Parents. Center for Young Women's Health, Children's Hospital Boston. 1999 (cited 2002 January 23). URL:
  • Rutherford, K. A Parent's Guide to Surviving Adolescence. KidsHealth. 2001 June (cited 2002 January 23). URL:
Share this article :

Post a Comment

Support : Creating Website | Johny Template | Mas Template
Copyright © 2011. Medical Show - All Rights Reserved
Template Created by Creating Website Published by Mas Template
Proudly powered by Premium Blogger Template