Adolescence is just one big walking pimple.
The process of rapid physical changes in adolescence is called puberty. It starts gradually, from around eleven years for girls and thirteen for boys. The age at which puberty starts has been dropping in most countries, probably due to better nutrition. So, your children may hit puberty earlier than you did. The hormone changes responsible actually begin some years earlier and may produce periods of moodiness and restlessness. Girls start these changes before boys and will, for the first three or four years, appear to be maturing much faster. After this, boys catch up. These changes include:
For girls: menstrual periods, growth ...view middle of the document...
• Real disagreements emerge for the first time as young people develop views of their own that are often not shared by their parents. • As everybody knows, adolescents spend a lot of time in each other's company, or on the telephone to each other. Although this can be irritating to parents, it is an important way of becoming more independent. These friendships are part of learning how to get on with other people and gaining a sense of identity that is distinct from that of the family. Clothes and appearance are a way of expressing solidarity with friends, although teenage children are still more likely to get their values from the family.
• Parents often feel rejected, and in a sense they are. But this is often necessary for young people to develop their own identity. Even if you have rows and arguments, your children will usually think a lot of you. The rejections and conflicts are often not to do with your personalities, but simply with the fact that you are parents, from whom your children must become independent if they are to have their own life. • As they become more independent, young people want to try out new things, but often recognise that they have little experience to fall back on when things get difficult. This may produce rapid changes in self-confidence and behaviour - feeling very adult one minute, very young and inexperienced the next.
• Being upset, feeling ill or lacking confidence can make them feel vulnerable. They may show this with sulky behaviour rather than obvious distress. Parents have to be pretty flexible to deal with all this, and may feel under considerable strain themselves.
• Adolescence is the time when people first start in earnest to learn about the world and to find their place in it. This involves trying out new experiences, some of which may be risky or even dangerous.
• Young people can crave excitement in a way that most adults find difficult to understand - and exciting activities may be dangerous. Fortunately, most people manage to find their excitement in music, sport, or other activities that involve a lot of energy but little real physical risk.
• When they do experiment - with drink or drugs or smoking - it is usually with friends. If a young person does this alone, they are in much greater danger. Warnings from older adolescents will usually be taken more seriously than those from parents.
• Over-eating, excessive sleepiness and a persistent over-concern with appearance may be signs of emotional distress.
• Anxiety may produce phobias and panic attacks. • Recent research suggests that emotional disorders are often not recognised, even by family and friends.
• At some time, 4 out of 10 adolescents have felt so miserable that they have cried and have wanted to get away from everyone and everything.
• During their adolescence, more than 1 in 5 teenagers think so little of themselves that life does not seem worth living. In spite of these powerful...