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Psychology of adolescence: how to understand adolescents?


This article is co-written by Paul Chernyak, LPC. Paul Chernyak is a licensed psychotherapist from Chicago. He graduated from the American School of Professional Psychology in 2011.

The number of sources used in this article is 19. You will find a list of them at the bottom of the page.

Physiological changes combined with emotional problems make adolescence in boys a difficult period. Regardless of whether you are a parent or are in your teens, you can strive to better understand teenage boys. Find out what changes boys experience in their teens and try to understand them. If you have conflicts with a teenager, learn to openly discuss emerging issues and set reasonable boundaries.

Age crises

Human life consists of crises. Priorities, goals are changing. The first crisis happens in childhood - at about 3 years. Next, a person reinterprets life at 13-15 years. Then crises happen at 30 and 50. The transitional age is considered the most difficult. A teenager is deprived of parental support; he does not know how to cope with difficulties. The task is to do everything so that this stage is minimally traumatic for the child.

Psychologists say transitional age is important. Without crises, development is impossible. The main thing is to support the teenager.

About generations

Why don't parents understand teenagers? Often, mothers and fathers dictate the rules of life to children. They are based on some unfulfilled dreams and hopes. They didn’t have time to do something and believe that if a teenager doesn’t do it, he will definitely regret it. But human life is unique. What is important to parents may not be of interest to the child.

The first thing to do is to stop imposing interests. This applies to hobbies, choice of profession, friends. You can know who the teenager is talking to and warn against danger. You can’t try to isolate him from friends you don’t like externally. Or consider that a humanities child will study in a math class, and then get a job - a failed tactic.

Live in rhythm with a teenager

Remember youth. It seemed that parents with outdated views lagged behind life? Now you have become like that. To get better, try asking what teenagers are doing today. Social networks, selfies, music, veganism, skateboards - this will help to understand the environment in which a teenager lives. And some things will be a revelation. For example, now there is a boom in a healthy lifestyle, the Internet has a lot of useful information that we could not read about 10 years ago.

No need to be more important

For a small child, you were an authority. Now he listens to the opinion of the coach, a friend. Release the situation if it does not threaten the life of the teenager. Understand that he is a separate person. You cannot make you respect just because you are a parent. Maximalism will pass soon. Do not escalate the situation. Do not bother with advice - wait until they ask. We want to raise independence in a teenager, but at the same time we do not let go.

Try less often to use the phrases “We are adults, and we know better” and “You have not grown to make decisions.” Now it’s important for a teenager to feel like a person. He wants independence. Better let him get it now and calm down in adulthood. It is difficult for parents to completely stop controlling their child.

Limit it in making decisions is not necessary. This is especially true for study and work. The first relationships that often develop later in life can arise. Some people even get married, although they became teenagers and no one took them seriously. Do not underestimate the opinion of the child - he no longer listens, as before.

The main thing is peace and mutual respect. Do not notice how the difficult stage will pass, and the teenager will become not just a child, but an individual.

How parents can understand a teenager and help him

The basic rule in communicating with a teenager is communication. You need to talk with the child, by any means, causing him to dialogue. They are still children and in the conversation will still express problems. Directly or indirectly, the main thing is to hear and understand.

Are you afraid of the behavior of a growing child, and are afraid that if you answer negatively to his next request, you will lose confidence? You are more likely to lose all of the above if, out of fear, you agree to all the crazy requests of a teenager.

Get ready for every negative answer deployed to substantiate your decision. Listen to the opinion of the teenager about the situation with the calm confidence of an adult who knows exactly what he is doing. Do not panic, do not scream, and never scandal. Seeing your confusion, the child may interpret this in his own way. He simply disobeys you or persuades, tears, threats will make you change your mind.

A solid “no” can never be replaced by a slippery “maybe”. Thus, you give your child hope that changing circumstances may affect your decision. And he will begin to look for an opportunity to change them.

Two adults.

Imagine a situation when you are talking with your parents, and they begin to lisp with you. Agree, you will not feel quite comfortable. So why do you think that you can communicate with a teenager, as with a three-year-old baby? Imposing their own opinion, parents do not understand what causes rebellion in the soul of the child. If he does not contradict openly, then he does it so that you do not recognize. Adolescents are unbearable that they are still considered children. They require a relationship to themselves, as an adult.

Understanding your teenage child is not difficult - treat him like an equal:

Talk calmly and with dignity,
Discuss collaborative issues,

Try to be near at a time when life requires him to make adult decisions. Do not insist that your child necessarily follow your advice. It is better if you express your own opinion on the created problem, and he will choose the ways to solve it himself. Do not limit the teenager’s freedom to such an extent that he suffers from a constant sense of surveillance. Some parents are too zealous in controlling their own child. A teenager needs freedom of thought and action, control him so that he does not even know about it.

To teach, and to teach again!

By the age of 10, children, schools, teachers, lessons and textbooks are completely bored. And then there is mom and dad, who are trying to teach him life. If you have mutual understanding with your child, it will not be difficult for you to explain to him that this is necessary for his own good. Otherwise, do not back down! Teach your child responsibility for his own actions, self-control and the ability to make informed decisions. If you do not give this to your child, something irreparable can happen. And then, you have to solve more serious problems.

Teach a teenager the following qualities and feelings:

Organization. A person’s ability to not stop there and move towards the intended goal is a sign of success and determination. Teach your child that it’s impossible to live without striving for something, a person must have desires, dreams that need to be realized,
Care. The child is brought up among adults, brothers, sisters and friends who love and protect him. Nurture in a teenager kindness, compassion, gentleness, endurance and attentiveness towards people,

Positive. It is impossible for a child to “close up” in himself, not being able to solve some kind of “global” life situation. It is clear that he “twisted himself” and is now in a panic looking for a way out. Explain to the teenager that his “terrible” problems are the result of self-flagellation and a negative attitude towards himself and his own life. Constantly assure the teenager that he is not a scarecrow with whom he thinks he is, but a very pleasant young man. Get your own teenage photos, show how you were at his age. You can give an example photo of pop stars and cinema. Fortunately, there are many of them on the Internet. Your child’s petty faults and mistakes are not worth literally “executing” himself for them. Explain to a growing person that there are more serious problems in life than what he quarreled with a friend today. Every fact of your child’s self-discipline, stop in the bud. Look for the right words, examples from your own life, the history of people your child knows.

Scandal and aggression.

Parents who are desperate to “guide” their child on the true path by talking and understanding, try to do the last that they consider possible - they scandalize, threaten and scold the child. This cannot be done! Not only will you not gain understanding and obedience, you will finally push the teenager away from you. Those grains of understanding and control over the situation will crumble to dust. The response to your relationship can be the worst - from aggression against you to an attempted suicide.

The crisis of adolescence is a familiar and terrible phrase for all parents. It means that in transitional age the child becomes uncontrollable and aggressive.

Learning to understand adolescents - changes by age

Let’s try to figure out what happens in the child’s body at each stage of growing up.

12 years. Still small or already big?

This is the age when a child cannot yet be an adult, but no longer wants to remain a child. He copies the behavior and manners of those around him in order to appear older. At this age, the child pays close attention to his appearance. Girls conduct the first experiments with cosmetics, and boys with a heavy sigh look at acne in the mirror. Help your child with this - buy special hypoallergenic cosmetics for your daughter and teach the rules of makeup. The boy will be pleased with an effective remedy for acne on his face.

Children become slow and try to withdraw into themselves. Now the main thing is to prevent them from crawling out like a snail into a sink, from where it is then too difficult to get them.

13 years old. Hyperactive and overexcited.

By the age of 13, violent processes begin to occur in the adolescent's body, which are commonly called hormonal changes. This is one of the most active periods in the development and formation of the child as an adult. Now he has learned to distinguish adult behavior from childish behavior, and knows very well that all the great uncles and aunts are independent people. Trying to seem independent, a teenager makes one of the most unpleasant mistakes in his life - he abstracts from his parents and ceases to recognize their authority. If you miss this period, you can come to disastrous results.

14 years. The struggle for the right to vote and recognition.

At this age, adolescents are especially uncontrollable. Proving their worth and independence, they begin to act in spite of their parents. Do not confuse this attitude with the anger and aggression of the child towards you. He loves you just as much as when he was little. But now they are driven by an unfamiliar sense of contradiction. The teenager, most likely, himself is not happy with what he is doing, but cannot change himself and disputes every word you say. Do not yell at him and do not scold him for "harmfulness." It’s not his fault, and this period will end soon.

15 and 16 years old. Not a person yet, but there is hope.

If in the past the child belonged to you and your heart and soul, now the time has come to share. He makes friends, acquaintances and first love, which distance you from the child. Now it depends only on you whether you remain friends or strangers, people who do not understand each other. With the advent of new people around the teenager, the moral standards, beliefs and life principles that you have put in his head for many years give a crack. Now in front of him there are other people who are brought up according to different rules. It is not surprising that the question arises before the child - who is right? Is it really mom and dad who daily repeat about self-improvement and self-control? Indeed, it’s easier and more fun to live like new friends - wandering around the streets in search of adventure and not bother with “unnecessary” problems. This is the moment when you must strictly, but unobtrusively control the sphere of communication of the child. If you initially know that he is friends with children whose concepts do not contradict the beliefs of your family, it will be easier to understand the teenager and his emotional throwings.

Why is it difficult for parents to understand a teenager who is 15 or 16 years old? The answer is - they forgot themselves at this age. Remember the first love, the first discord with a friend, when you did not agree, the first kiss. Too much happens for the first time at this age. It is difficult for a teenager to cope with the influx of emotions, a feeling of loneliness and a feeling of his own powerlessness in front of the current situation. It is important to make it clear to the child that he is not alone, that you will always help and support him. His problems are your problems, but he must make the decision. The main thing is that they be balanced and deliberate. Cultivate a teenager's sense of responsibility for loved ones.

Along with everyday concepts, a worldview is formed in the child. He receives a lot of knowledge from teachers, is interested in history and sciences. His views and judgments become vast and multifaceted. This age is characterized by the fact that a person is at the top of mental and mental development.

Listen to your children, give them the opportunity to express their own opinion. After all, only in communication do warm, friendly relations arise that you will preserve for life.