Being there for the teenage years Being there for the teenage years

Accepting change and being understanding are factors that are helpful to young people at this stage of life.

Advisor: Omar Salazar – Psychiatrist

Although adolescence is a phase marked by uncertainty, due to the changes it brings and because everything seems to go faster, having the right strategies to support young people in this process can make this journey towards adulthood more enjoyable.

According to the psychiatrist Omar Salazar, the first key to supporting them is to avoid being quick to judge them and to break down the myths about them. “Teenagers are said to be difficult or rebellious, but in reality, most of them adjust well and have a good relationship with their parents.”

However, we must bear in mind that during this stage, changes occur that can cause some emotional instability, most of which corresponds to the hormonal influence that comes with puberty. “In women, estrogen increases the likelihood of having anxiety, entering a depressive crisis or experiencing emotional instability, especially before menstruation. And the testosterone in men can cause an increase in aggressiveness, but these changes do not imply very serious changes in behavior,” our psychiatrist states.

In response to these situations, another strategy that works in dealing with adolescents is tolerance. When there is a greater capacity for understanding, emotional instability will not affect home life and it can be managed on a daily basis.

“When conflict involves physical aggression, a communication breakdown, a very difficult home life, poor academic performance, or when the teen struggles with social adaptation, it is time to seek the advice of a professional. However, in general terms, these behaviors are not serious,” Salazar states.

Choosing your battles

Our psychiatrist also suggests knowing what battles to choose in order to avoid constant confrontation. Also, try to be more flexible about certain rules, remembering that a teenager can no longer be treated like a child. “You have to avoid being too strict. You can’t clash with them all the time because they have a messy room or because they use the slang that young people use, for example, because that’s how they talk and it’s normal. It’s okay to demand respect at home, but don’t fight with them.”

 Other areas where you can give in a little is with bedtime and mealtimes, especially because with these changes, sometimes their appetite goes away or they may be in a bad mood, “One thing not to tolerate is the consumption of drugs and alcohol,” our psychiatrist states.

Similarly, in order to understand boys who are going through adolescence, it is helpful to learn about and be familiar with the characteristics of this stage of life. “At my appointments, for example, I recommend parents read a lot about adolescence so they can understand what this stage is about. The better prepared they are, the more these changes will not take them by surprise,” Salazar affirms.

Forming habits

Preparing to go through adolescence with your children does not start just when they begin to experience the transitions of this stage. More effective support is truly achieved when habits are formed from childhood, such as being disciplined and responsible.

“During this pre-adolescent period, it’s important to encourage independence and autonomy. They should take on responsibilities that are appropriate for their age and have obligations and commitments at home so that when adolescence hits, they are already quite independent,” Dr. Salazar explains. By them being independent, parents can slowly give freedom to them and adapt their rules for discipline according to the stage they are at.

Agreements

During adolescence, the desire to socialize also increases. It is therefore necessary for there to be agreements between the parents or adults responsible for giving them permission to go out, “It’s about negotiating what gatherings they are allowed to attend and until what time,” Salazar states.

It is important to be prepared for the beginning of emotional relationships and to foster good communication and sex education, “This will allow young people to make sound decisions about their sexuality. And when the teen states that they are sexually active, or when the parents suspect it, it is important to make the appropriate contraceptive methods available to them,” our doctor affirms.

While the characteristics of today’s teenagers make them different from previous generations, giving them support is easier from a place of love and understanding. “They are not better or worse than adults, they are just different,” concludes Dr. Salazar.

Understand each stage

According to the specialist, adolescence – which is the process of changes between childhood and young adulthood – has three stages to it:

  1. Early adolescence: Physical changes that manifest first in women. This stage occurs between ages 12 and 14.
  2. Middle adolescence: Psychological changes are common during this stage, such as having existential-like attitudes, searching for an identity, being somewhat rebellious, taking a marked interest in socializing, establishing social groups and wanting to belong to others. This stage occurs between ages 14 and 16.
  3. Late adolescence: This stage comes with social changes, such as seeking out a vocation, finishing high school, beginning to work or going to college, among others. It occurs after age 16, but the line between this stage and young adulthood is blurry.

Related: Forming healthy habits in teens