What Parents Need to Know About Social Changes in Adolescence
Having a teenager is a tough milestone. Instead of playing make-believe, they’re now interested in things like dating. When you are a parent, seeing these social changes can be very shocking. Your kids may not be little anymore, but they are not adults yet either. Seeing your kids experimenting with new social habits feels like a lot.
These social changes you are going through with your adolescent child do not have to be such a struggle. By preparing yourself for what your children are going through during teenage years and knowing they can talk to you is important for your relationship.
Social Changes in Adolescence
Being a teenager comes with making a lot of important decisions. While they may not be adults yet, they are on the path to becoming one. Their peers, school performance, and their choices will affect their mental health going forward. Social development changes may include:
- Seeing how they fit in
- Establishing independence
- Taking on more responsibility
- Trying new experiences
- Finding new peers
- Sexual identity
- Social media exposure
While your teen is changing, you will change as a parent in the way you speak to your teen and your actions towards them. As long as the two of you work together through these changes, your teen will be more than prepared for adulthood.
Be an Example for Your Teen
Your behavior will have an influence on your teen. If you are openly fighting with your partner, etc., then they will think that’s normal for them to do as well.
Be a role model by having positive relationships with your own family, friends, and romantic relationships. This way, your teen will go through the hurdles of peer relationships with respect and empathy after watching you do the same.
Listen to Your Teen
Your teen will have a lot of questions to ask you. You were once a teenager and can share your experiences and advice with them.
When your teen wants to talk to you, take the time to listen. If you are in the middle of doing something that cannot wait, set aside time later to talk. When your child speaks, see things from their perspective instead of being quick to give advice on what you would do.
Validate what they are saying by actively listening and staying engaged.
Talk About Relationships
Talking about relationships with your kids doesn’t have to be awkward or avoided. Speak about it in an open and non-judgmental way to show they can trust you.
This is a good opportunity to find out what your child really knows on the subject of relationships and sex and what they should know for their own safety. Let your teen know that if they have questions or concerns, to not be afraid to reach out.
Focus on the Good Things
There will be plenty of times where your teen will disappoint you about the choices they make. You may not like the clothes they wear, the people they hang out with, if they experiment with drinking, etc. Try to remember that they are still learning and that this can be a confusing time for them. Give them support instead of judgement. You can help them learn to make good decisions.
Acknowledge the good things your teens do. For example, you can congratulate your teen when they get good grades on their report card. You can also let your teen know when they are being a good friend to someone or that you appreciate them checking in with a text when they’re out with friends.
Witnessing the social developments of your adolescent teen can be a change for the both of you. If you’re finding this transition challenging, family therapy can be a great way to form a strong bond and find answers.