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A Guide To Adolescence for Parents

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Amanda Herrera

on 9 July 2013

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Transcript of A Guide To Adolescence for Parents

During this stage of life, many new behaviors begin to emerge (many of which can frustrate parents!). These changes can often include changes in attention, motivation and in risk-taking behavior.
(Cance, 2012)
Common adolescent issues can include:
Peer pressure
Concern with appearances
Introduction of drugs and alcohol
Poor social skills
Characteristics of Adolescent Thinking:
Egocentrism: overly concerned with their own thoughts and feelings
Imaginary audience: believe others are watching them constantly
Personal fable: believe their experiences and feelings are unique
Illusion of invulnerability: think misfortune only happens to others
(Elkind, 1967)
It is important that parents understand that adolescence is a time of growth and maturation in the brain.
Most of our cognitive abilities rely on the proper functioning of a part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. During the stage of adolescence, the prefrontal cortex undergoes massive structural changes and it is one of the last areas of the brain to mature completely (Anderson, 2001).

Therefore, during a phase of life where the level of responsibilities and expectations has risen dramatically from the early elementary years, plus the rise of hormones and social “issues”, these students are also dealing with drastic changes in their brain.
The specific parts of the brain affected are those dealing with…
Attentional control:
selective attention
sustained attention
(Anderson, 2001)
Goal setting
problem solving
strategic behavior
(Anderson, 2001)
Cognitive flexibility
working memory
attentional shift
conceptual transfer
(Anderson, 2001)
This Leads To...
... students who may exhibit poor attention and planning, difficulties generating and implementing strategies, inability to utilize feedback, and inflexibility of thinking.
(Anderson, 2001)
Risk Taking: “Are you Crazy! What were you thinking?!”
Teenagers are known for risk-taking, novelty seeking, reckless behavior and impulsivity.

Believe it or not, some degree of risk-taking in adolescence is not only normal, but beneficial, as it allows adolescents to accomplish normal developmental tasks and learn from their mistakes.

However, risk-taking can produce very negative consequences and should be monitored for excessive, live-endangering, recklessness.
(Shulman & Cauffman, 2013)
Adolescents, due to the changes occurring in their brain, are less able to inhibit impulsive behaviors than adults. In other words, in situations where an adult is physically capable of stopping themselves from acting out impulsively, a teenager might not be. The ability to control impulsive behaviors strengthens as the brain matures gradually in late adolescence
(Shulman & Cauffman, 2013)
What is Normal Adolescent Behavior and When Should Parents be Concerned?

Increased parent-child conflict
Less time with family, more time with peers
Becoming overwhelmed with everyday decision making
Increased argumentativeness, criticism, idealism

Cause for concern:
Verbal or physical aggression
Runaway behaviors
Becoming paralyzed with indecision
Rebellious questioning of social rules and conventions
Causing trouble with family members, teachers, etc.
Self injury, suicidal thoughts

Increased focus on body image and self consciousness

Cause for concern:
Binge eating
Excessive restricted eating

Stressful transitions to middle and high school
Increased stress due to workload

Cause for concern:
Lack of connection to school or peers
School truancy


Increased risk taking and sensation seeking

Cause for concern:
Multiple accidents
Encounters with firearms
Excessive risk taking and recklessness


Knowledge of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco
Experimentation (trying it once or twice) is considered normal in middle adolescence

Cause for concern:
Substance abuse
Using substances to manage emotions
Selling drugs
Heavily substance-using peer group
The Importance of Good Social Skills:
Social skills are important because they communicate society's expectations for behavior. A child’s development of, and ability to apply social skills can affect many aspects of their life.

Some even suggest that the ability to get along with people has more influence on career success than intelligence and that getting and keeping a job, getting promotions, and general job success often depend much more on social skills than job expertise.

Poor social skills can result in serious psychological ramifications.
(Utay, 2005)
Children with poor social skills are often victimized at school.
This can result in…

(Utay, 2005)
Increased risk for depression and anxiety
Child to become socially withdrawn and have low self-esteem
Dislike of, avoidance of, and (or) poor performance in school
A child with few if any friends and extreme loneliness
So, if your adolescent's impulsive behavior is driving you crazy, try to remember...
Pubertal development during adolescence has been found to be highly salient, resulting in powerful emotions on the part of the adolescent as well as changing relationships with peers, parents, and teachers (Cance, 2012).
There is wide variation in the onset and tempo of puberty by gender and race/ethnicity, as well as individual differences within groups (Cance, 2012).
Throughout puberty and adolescence, the ego identity is formed. This is the knowledge of who you are and how you fit into the broader society. Adolescent’s interact and compare themselves to others, a process known as psychosocial reciprocity. The social interactions occurring during pubertal development influence the adolescent’s growing identity (Cance, 2012).
Puberty to Adolescence
... it is important to take note of who your child is hanging out with, who their friends are, and what kind of people they are (do they display good morals, ethics, and behaviors), because these are the “others” who will help shape your child during puberty and adolescence.
Technically, adolescence is considered the teenage years between 13 & 19.

However, the physical and psychological changes often start early during the preteen years (i.e. puberty) as early as 9 years of age.
(Cance, 2012)

Typical Social Development examples (Utay, 2005):

Toddlers play next to each other rather than together
Preschoolers come together for short interactions and separate easily
Kindergarteners and first graders seek friends who are convenient and share interests.
Around age eight children usually begin understanding that to have a friend you have to be a friend. They usually stick with same-sex peers and frequently change best friends.
Children from age eight until about 11 are normally very concerned about social fairness.
Adolescents and teenagers are preoccupied with "looks," "fitting in," and "being cool."

Is Your Child Being Bullied?
Signs of victimization can include the following:

If your child is excessively clingy, anxious, and (or) withdrawn
If your child is happy on the weekends, but not during the week
If your child shows a drop in academic or work performance
Excessive stomachaches, headaches, or difficulty sleeping
Binge eating

If your child is showing any of the above signs, they may be a victim of a bully. Some victims become aggressive themselves and may bring on attacks by being disruptive, attention-seeking, or antisocial.
(Utay, 2005)
Social Skill Development
For many, making friends is easy and comes naturally. They join a group of peers and are simply absorbed into the group energy.

For others, it is not so easy and they must be helped along if it is to successfully happen.
(Utay, 2005)
How Do We Know If Our Child Needs Help With Social Development?
Determine your child's stage of social development.
Just right!
A little behind (slightly immature and needs time to catch up)
Just needs opportunities to play or
Lacks skills that you or a professional can teach him or her

Parents should consider the following when assessing their child’s social stage and ability:
Does your child know the skills necessary to make friends?
Do they know what to do when teased or when another child suddenly changes the rules?
Does your child know how to do the things that other children are interested in (i.e. collecting, games, activities, etc…? (Utay, 2005)
Once a parent has a clear understanding of their child’s social abilities, they are more able to help their child and address any issues. This is important for many reasons, including the prevention of your child being bullied or being a bully themselves.
(Utay, 2005)
** ERIC would not let me view the full document on some of the articles that I searched without requesting it and waiting (which I did not have time for). The website shows this message “ALERT: Limited Availability of Full-Text Documents. Click here for more information, or here to request the return of a PDF online.”

Therefore, for articles without full access immediately available, after finding one that interested me, I did an internet search for it. The URL’s listed are from the site I was able to view the entire article, but I did initially find each of the articles through ERIC per our instructions.

Anderson, V.A., Anderson, P., Northam, E., Jacobs, R., Catroppa, C. (August, 2001). Development of executive functions through late childhood and adolescence in an Australian sample. Developmental Neuropsychology. 20: 385-406. Viewed online July 6, 2013, at http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=27656b84-a6ee-4840-b6a2-d0ed4ec70fc1%40sessionmgr11&vid=5&hid=22

Cance, J., Ennett, S., Morgan-Lopez, A., & Foshee, V. (2012). The Stability of Perceived Pubertal Timing Across Adolescence. Journal Of Youth & Adolescence, 41(6), 764-775. doi:10.1007/s10964-011-9720-0. Viewed online July 6, 2013 at http://ehis.ebscohost.com.ezp1r.riosalado.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=d295ae62-65e7-4472-80f2-484ff2e433df%40sessionmgr198&vid=1&hid=105

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) (January 2012). Parent Engagement: Strategies for Involving Parents in School Health (ED530160). Viewed online July 6, 2013, at http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED530160.pdf

Elkind, D. (1967). EGOCENTRISM IN ADOLESCENCE. Child Development, 38(4), 1025. Viewed online July 6, 2013, at http://ehis.ebscohost.com.ezp1r.riosalado.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=5cd767ac-593a-40ca-8de8-e4353f81e444%40sessionmgr104&vid=1&hid=105

Shulman, E. P., & Cauffman, E. (2013). Deciding in the Dark: Age Differences in Intuitive Risk Judgment. Developmental Psychology, doi:10.1037/a0032778. Viewed online July 6, 2013, at http://ehis.ebscohost.com.ezp1r.riosalado.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=7337e9cf-9825-4906-b787-a61aa47aef3d%40sessionmgr115&vid=1&hid=105

Utay, J. (2005). Improving Social Skills: A Training Presentation to Parents. Education, 126(2), 251. Viewed online July 6, 2013, at http://web.ebscohost.com
How do we know if our child needs help?
What do we do?
How do we help?

Bothersome Behavior
If your child is displaying bothersome behavior, deal with it directly.

Do not engage in a power play
Keep the responsibility on the child – but do not retaliate
Do not act hurt by the actions. This can often reinforce bad behavior.
Sarcasm makes things worse instead of better.
Reconsider what has worked in the past
Most importantly, develop a better relationship with your child. Make the time.

Deal directly with sad-angry behavior. Sadness and anger will happen. Instead of trying to prevent it, find a way to minimize the intensity and duration.
(Utay, 2005)
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help your child
Ensure that "home" is a place of refuge, where your child feels comfortable, happy, and taken care of. Be a positive role model for your child and care for them well. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) found that children who experienced better quality of care, where caregivers provided intellectual stimulation and were warm, positive, and sensitive, had fewer problem behaviors.
(CDC, 2012)
The “problem” can be in the form of…

Understanding homework
Learning to forgive a friend
Earning money for something
Helping your child express something that they are dealing with at school
(Utay, 2005)
Get involved! Be there, be aware, and participate in all aspects of your child's life (Utay, 2005).
Assure your child that sometimes it takes time to feel more comfortable with making friends (Utay, 2005).
Make sure your child understands that friendship is a team effort and that they are not alone (Utay, 2005).
Consider Counseling: Many schools, counseling centers, and some learning centers offer help with social skills, poor behaviors, anger, depression, and more (Utay, 2005).
Spend time as a family. Both quality and quantity are important (Utay, 2005).
Know your child's friends and monitor them. Remember, these are the “others” who will help shape your child during puberty and adolescence. Make sure your child is "hanging out" with other children who have good morals, ethics, and behaviors.
In Conclusion...
Take action, whether within your family or combined with professional help. It can make the difference between a lonely, unhappy child and one who learns how to successfully make and keep friends.

Achieving success in school, on the job, and in the community is contingent upon the ability to interact with others. Acquiring social skills and quality of life indicators that lead to long-term positive social status can contribute to academic achievement, positive peer relations, inclusion in effective learning opportunities, and family harmony

Parents are vital to this process.
(CDC, 2012)
Learn, try something, improve, assess what happened, plan for next time, celebrate.

Then, learn more, modify again, improve, assess what happened, plan for next time, celebrate.

... and repeat the process again and again.

Finally, remember to remain calm, communicate, and to take a step back to see the big picture.

Then, jump back in and remember the goal: preparing your intensely wonderful, frustrating, inspiring, depressing, incredibly awesome child to for a successful tomorrow.

The stage of ones life, where the process of “self-identity” begins.

It can be a time of wonderful discovery and gained independence…

… but also, a time of frustration and disorientation.

The process of developing from a child into a sexually mature adult.
Important physical changes occur during this process, from skeletal to nervous system growth to the development of the endocrine system (Cance, 2012).
It is important to consider the impact of pubertal timing on your child’s adolescent health and well-being at different times during adolescence (Cance, 2012).
Remind them often of what they are great at. If they know their competencies, they can use them for ready-made topics of discussion (Utay, 2005).
Teach your child how to observe others and to watch and listen to the social skills others use (Utay, 2005).
Role-play difficult social situations (Utay, 2005).
Teach how to ask questions and how to listen (Utay, 2005).
Communicate! Communication is KEY!! Talk to your child about their life, friends, and activities... often!
Remember… It’s about communication and the connection.

Look out for early warning signs
Keep calm
Show empathy for your child's feelings
Model appropriate social expressions

If a problem arises, decide if the problem needs a solution, or if your child simply needs to vent by expressing his/her feelings, or both (CDC, 2012)
Parent engagement in schools involves the parents and school staff working together to support and improve the learning, development, and health of children and adolescents. Parent engagement in schools is a shared responsibility with the school and where parents are committed to actively supporting their children’s learning and development. The relationship between schools and parents reinforces children’s health and learning in multiple settings—at home, in school, in out-of-school programs, and in the community (CDC, 2012).

Research shows that parent engagement in schools is closely linked to better student behavior, higher academic achievement, and enhanced social skills. Parent engagement also makes it more likely that children and adolescents will avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as sexual risk behaviors and tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use (CDC, 2012).
For some children, understanding what is “cool” or socially “in”, does not always come naturally (Utay, 2005).
While some learn by observing their peers, some need to be taught directly (Utay, 2005).
Some children know what to do but lack the confidence to apply their social skill (Utay, 2005).
Others do not know what to do, but if taught, are very willing and capable to do it (Utay, 2005.
Some children lack both understanding of social skills and an ability to apply them even after gaining that understanding (Utay, 2005).
As your schedule allows, help in your child’s classroom, attend after-school events, or participate in a school committee, such as a health team or parent organization.
Offer to share important aspects of your family’s culture with your child’s class
Talk to your child and ask them about their day, friends, schoolwork, etc…
Encourage your child to participate in school activities.
Attend parent-teacher-student conferences to discuss his or her grades, behavior, and accomplishments
Read school newsletters
Examples of Parental Engagement in School
Independence is an overarching characteristic of the early teen years. Becoming independent means being more responsible for one’s own safety. Help children stay safe by teaching them how to avoid violence through good communication skills. Children are influenced by the actions of their parents, so model good behaviors for them to follow. Encourage children to get involved in their communities. Know your child’s friends. Children with friends who engage in risky behaviors are more likely to imitate these behaviors. Address concern about your child’s safety while also allowing and encouraging independence.
(CDC, 2012)
Help your child solve the “problem-of-the-day”… everyday.
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