Understanding the teen years

Understanding the teen years

Written By: Donel van Zyl, Crawford College North Coast

Raising a teen can be a daunting task. Teenagedom was a very long time ago for some parents, and the thought of raising a teen in todays fast paced, technological age tends to make parents feel overwhelmed straight off the bat. By developing a greater understanding of a teen’s world and compartmentalising it, may make the task a little less stressful for parents.

The teenage years are a critical stage on the road to adulthood. These are the years from which well-adjusted adults are moulded. A teen typically operates in three major spheres in their lives; the social, academic and physical spheres. Striking a balance between these three areas can help teenagers to navigate this period more easily, and will set them up for being wholesome adults in the future. What parents may begin to notice is that these three spheres are inextricably linked. Trouble in one area may easily affect another; for example, poor performance in Mathematics over a term, which falls in the academic sphere, could be partly attributed to the loss of a grandparent a few months before, which is the social sphere. Parents can play a pivotal role in helping teens to keep a state of harmony. Although this is the time that teens need to find their independence, they still do require the support of someone to help them through it. Parents can monitor their teen and look for links between behaviour and events in each sphere and intervene where needed.

Teens spend most of their time in the academic sphere surrounded by their teachers and friends. As they move further up the grades in school, the academic pressure mounts and the focus on career becomes greater. Many teens get bogged down by the academic pressure, which in turn may affect the other two spheres. Teens of all academic strengths are affected by these pressures and parents may notice things such as social withdrawal or illness creeping in. These are signs that your teen may be under duress and that there is an imbalance. Intervention will be required and the help from professionals, such as teachers, may be required to address the issues.

It is imperative for a teen to maintain their physical well-being. Regular exercise and healthy eating habits help to keep a teen aligned. Teens require 8 to 9 hours of sleep a night, which can be difficult to get for them due to homework and study routines that may keep them up. Snappiness and irritability could be due to lack of sleep or hunger, for example.

The social sphere includes both family and friends. Teens are social beings and enjoy socialising immensely. One major difference between the generations is that teens of today use the digital world to socialise as well. Teens also begin to slowly separate from their parents on a quest to develop greater independence. This period will not come without bumping of heads; however. Parents may need to incorporate new strategies when it comes to communicating with a teen. Allow your teen the time and space to develop their independence in a healthy and safe way. Parents may also notice that their teen gravitates towards their peers more and more over this period. The trick is not to take this too personally – it is normal. This new-found independence can go a long way in helping the transition from school to university and to the world of work one day.

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