Up until recently, you were likely very happy being the child of your parents. You may have gotten along with your parents well, and you liked who they were. Now, things are starting to feel different. You’re having some of your own thoughts, thoughts that are different than your parents. Perhaps you’re even having thoughts that are different than your siblings and your entire family culture.
Now that you’re getting older you’re thinking for yourself and seeing life differently. It’s good! It’s normal. Being an adolescence comes with some important changes that are supporting you in becoming an independent adult. Although it might be scary to have those leaving-the-nest type thoughts, they are precisely the kind of thoughts you can expect during this time of life.
In fact, changes in your thinking, feeling, and behaving are all happening. Part of this is the huge explosion of growth that’s happening in the brain. There are new connections that are forming and new ways of looking at the world around you. Remember, that all of it is in the name of becoming an adult. Right now, as a teen, you’re walking that bridge between childhood and adulthood. On some days, you might want to walk back towards being a child and on other days you might want to run towards being an adult. However, in general, you’ll be walking this bridge until you’re about 23 years old.
Here are a few experiences you might have as you traverse the adolescent stage of life:
You might have an increased propensity for risk-taking. This might come with a strong desire to “leave the nest” and to explore the world around you. You might want to spend less time with the family and more time with friends. You might want to have less dinners at the table and more alone in your room listening to music. You might want to argue more with your parents, giving voice to your point of view. You might even feel angry towards them for their parenting, which might feel limiting as you continue to grow and mature.
You may have increased emotional intensity. When researchers watched parents and their pre-teens discuss a conflict, they found that most kids got angry. The pre-teens that had started puberty, however, tended to get MUCH angrier than those who had not started puberty. This is also a normal part of adolescence. The part of the brain that governs emotions is in full swing. It’s growing rapidly while the rational, thinking part of the brain won’t develop until later. For this reason, the responses you have toward life might be emotional and passionate, an experience that later might be more inhibited once your thinking brain fully develops.
You may experience an increased attunement to social status. This happens across cultures, and even species, as the reproductive system matures. Teens will often trade safety for status, taking risks that declare their status within their peer group. In fact, you might notice that being accepted among your friends and positioning yourself socially among those in your age group becomes incredibly important. It might even become more important than your family relationships or your need for nurturing from your parents. At this age, you’re becoming focused on acceptance among your peers and the role you will take on in society.
If you’re noticing these changes, you should know that it’s all a part of the normal development of adolescence. It’s all a normal part of your growth. It’s important to have someone to discuss these changes with. Otherwise, it might feel challenging to have to go through these changes on your own. If you can find an adult you trust (a parent, counselor, teacher, relative), you might find the support you need to make it through tumultuous time of being a teen.