Making Sense of Adolescence

adolescence 1Tweens, teens, adolescents, youths. Whatever you call them, the young people in our lives going through the transition from childhood to adulthood called adolescence can be confusing, amusing and downright frustrating at times. But when you consider that the emotions and behaviors they display are common for kids their ages, the transition becomes less taxing.

It helps to know that many adolescents…

Push boundaries. Teens begin to see the world as less black and white. They develop the ability to understand nuances. They may stretch the rules to discover which are hard-and-fast and which ones fall in a grey area. As they seek to understand the world and their changing bodies, adolescents also sometimes push the limits of their own physical abilities, which can lead to behavior that adults see as unnecessarily risky.

Like to sleep late. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a natural shift in circadian rhythms occurs during adolescence. This leads teens to be alert later into the night. Which makes falling asleep difficult, leading to a delayed wake time. Combine that with the demands of homework and extracurricular activities and it may also seem like your teen is constantly tired – because he is!

adolescence 2Become more self-absorbed. Who am I? How do I fit into the world? Why am I here? In adolescence metacognition, the awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes, develops. Armed with this new self-perception, teens spend time comparing themselves to those around them and evaluating themselves against norms and expectations. They may “try on” different personalities and interests in an effort to find where they fit.

Demonstrate a greater reliance on peers and a desire to distance themselves from their parents. A need for autonomy and independence surfaces during this phase of development. Rightly so as your tween or teen will be leaving the nest in a matter of years. But, as with many aspects of adolescence, the effect can come across as exaggerated. They may act as though they don’t want you around at all, when they just want space.