Watching your child grow from a baby to toddler, and eventually into a teenager can be quite the journey. While much of the time you’ll have fun watching them grow and learn, there will no doubt be challenges along the way. This is especially apparent during puberty, which can present a number of struggles for both parents and teens. As Connections Academy for K-12 education says, “Knowing what to expect can help you better assist your child through this challenging time.” To help prepare you both, four of the most common emotional challenges you should expect are listed below.
1. Peer Pressure
Peer pressure from classmates or friends can leave teens uncertain about their choices and stressed out about having to make them. Parents can expect to see social changes, such as new friends, a new way of talking, trying new activities, or even new likes/dislikes.
To cope, try to offer guidance while letting your teen know they don’t have to “fit in”. Let them know the importance of being themselves and standing out for their unique qualities.
2. Constant Mood Swings
Most teens will experience a wide range of emotions as they go through puberty. Unfortunately, these can surge and hit all at once. This means mood swings that can include crying for no reason, aggression, frustration, annoyance, and the ability to lose their temper easily.
To cope, it’s recommended to first keep your cool and remember that these mood swings are caused by fluctuating hormone levels and aren’t always directly related to your child or their overall personality.
Changing hormones can cause extreme sensitivity that result in bouts of crying or sudden rage. Even something simple, like missing a television show or concert, can set a teen off and cause turmoil in the house.
To cope, try to stay level-headed knowing these episodes are temporary. When it’s the right time, talk to your teen about reasoning and the importance of balancing their reactions.
4. Learning Who They Are
As teens experience the changes that puberty brings, they will begin to label themselves and experiment with their likes and dislikes. They will try to fit in, they may sit out, and they may even try new groups of friends. Everything they do in this stage is crucial to finding their identity.
To cope, try to be a good role model while monitoring their choices and giving advice. Don’t get overly involved and allow them time to experiment with the person they want to become.
During puberty, the body changes considerably for both boys and girls. This can cause confusion, as many teens wonder if they are “normal”. Many will feel embarrassed and may try to hide their changing bodies so their differences don’t get pointed out.
To cope, try not to make a big deal of periods, changing voices, or new facial hair. Instead, make gentle suggestions about sanitary options and talk about your experiences when you were younger.
Puberty isn’t easy for teens and it’s certainly not easy for parents. However, if you remember that the changes are necessary and temporary, the emotional challenges can be easier to get through. Fortunately, once you’re on the other side, your teen will have a better sense of who they are and better control of their emotions.