Well, perhaps completely understanding your teen may be a stretch. But certainly understanding the typical stages of adolescence might give you insight into the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors your teen may experience. With this information you might be able to be pick your battles, be more compassionate, and learn to roll with what your teen is experiencing versus pushing your own agenda.
For instance, occasionally teens need their privacy. At the same time, the teenage brain is still growing, which means that they can be impulsive, neglect to consider the consequences of their behavior, and make decisions out of strong emotions. For these reasons, teens still need their parents to guide, protect, and encourage them in the right direction.
To provide you with a greater understanding of what your teen is experiencing (and will experience later in adolescence), here are brief descriptions of each stage your teen may go through:
Early Adolescence: During the first stage, a teen is entering puberty. This is an uncomfortable period of physical growth and sexual development. Although it’s uncomfortable, puberty is often over by mid-adolescence, meaning that a teen is often at their adult height by mid-adolescence. The physical growth in teens can certainly have an influence on their emotional and psychological growth, especially if they are concerned about their looks among peers.
Mid Adolescence: This stage consists of emotional and psychological development. Teens are beginning to assert their independence. They might do this by pulling away from their parents and their family in general. They might wish to spend more time with friends or new adults in their life whom they admire. Teens are searching for an identity and might want to spend time with people whose traits they want to adopt. One conflict, however, about the emotional and psychological development that teens go through is that they are both reaching for their independence while at the same time fearing losing the security of their parents.
Late Adolescence: Throughout adolescence, and most prominently during this stage, teens are finding their way through the social scene. They might gain more and more confidence and begin to expand their social circles to include those they might not otherwise spend time with. They might pull more and more away from parents, find a job and form relationships with those at work, and they might begin to date. All of these are ways that teens are slowly taking steps toward adulthood.
With this information in mind, you might respond to your teen differently. For instance, understanding that your teen is both trying to find their independence while at the same time fearing the loss of their childhood security might inspire compassion and understanding in you.
Teens may go through a difficult time during adolescence. Yet, knowing you are there to support, love, and accept them will be the primary foundation upon which they will gain confidence in becoming an adult.