How to Understand Adolescent Psychology

Dr. Purushothaman
September 5, 2013

If you’re the parent of an adolescent, you know how turbulent this stage of development can be. Beginning at about the age of 13, both boys and girls go through a transition that stymies parents and kids alike. Kids arrive at a stage of physical development that tends to fuel psychological bafflement for kids and parents alike. Adolescent psychology is one of the most difficult to comprehend, in large part due to the distance in age between parents and teens.

The need for understanding adolescent psychology seems to kick in with puberty. Whereas a 10 year old child is still on the same page with parents, who can kid and joke and cuddle without repercussions, the budding teen rapidly acquires a new sense of their individuality – which is a good news, bad news deal for children and parents alike. In the 13-16 year age range, it’s difficult to know what kids are thinking about and where they’re coming from, which is one reason parents need to go back in the day in order to keep the lines of communication open.

As a parent, think about how you responded to your parents when you were a teen. Everything they had to say seemed to be nothing more than a boring lecture, or an out-of-date perspective on modern life. Nothing has changed there. Do you remember writing entries in your diary, bemoaning the lack of understanding your parents demonstrated on issues such as curfews, your friends, clothes and hair style? When you reached the teen years, privacy became a premier issue.

If your Mom decided to go through your drawers, or clean your room, you probably felt insulted and violated, as though she didn’t trust you. Maybe your Mom was the nosy sort, or perhaps she just felt it was her duty to make sure she knew what you were up to when you were unsupervised. This lack of understanding adolescent psychology was more the norm several decades ago. Today, parents should take a closer look at balancing kid’s needs for privacy with maintaining good lines of communication and trust. You want to know where to draw the line between snooping and establishing trust. If you press your kids for every little detail, the natural adolescent psychology kicks in. They tend to clam up and become secretive.

Some parents go the other route, trying so hard – too hard – to be their child’s BFF instead of exercising a parental role. Kids rebel against this too! It’s a thin line between the two, so give some care to this aspect of adolescent psychology. You want your kids to know you’re there for them, but don’t try to be a teen yourself. They need guidance. Deliver your guidance gently. Deep down, they know you’ve got the experience in life and love for them. It’s scary to approach adulthood. Perhaps the key to understanding adolescent psychology lies in knowing that the desire for independence conflicts with babyhood, so recently left behind.

A major component of raising children involves teaching them good judgment, from an early age. As they grow, you’ve got to know when and how to let go. Kids will inevitably spread their wings and fly away from the nest. You want to be sure they are well prepared.

You’ll also want to brush up on today’s standards of peer pressure and the drug culture that permeates our society. If you can convey true understanding of these elements of adolescent psychology, along with non-judgmental guidance and an unbreakable trust, there’s a better than even chance your child will make a seamless and successful transition to adulthood. This is the most important task of your life.

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