Teenage years are a time of major transition from being a child to a young adult. The physical changes as the body grows cause many teenagers to develop concerns about the changing size, weight and shape. Also, a teenager begins to develop unique personality traits that affect their emotional and social behaviours. As a teenager slowly develops a clear sense of identity, parents can play an important role in shaping the right personality development by understanding the various changes that their growing child is experiencing.
Physical changes that can affect personality
Girls mature physically earlier than boys and it is common for them to feel confused about their changing bodies. Teenage girls are prone to eating disorders that stem from poor self body image. This can further impact their personality and peer relationships.
Emotional and social changes in a teenager
A teenager begins to:
- Develop an interest in the other sex
- Seek independence from parental control, often leading to conflict
- Spend more time with friends and fellow teenagers
- Develop the ability to forge deeper, more intimate relationships
Changes in thought process and learning
A teenager begins to develop the ability to learn more complex tasks, and think about choices concerning their future, like higher studies and career. This results from their need to provide reason and logic to every action that concerns them.
Tips for parents to enable healthy personality development
This can be a tough time for parents too. Suddenly their sweet child starts to show new characteristics and no longer runs to them for help; rather there’s more conflict to deal with now.
Parents can play an important role in moulding a teenager’s personality towards becoming a physically, mentally and emotionally healthy adult. Let’s see how:
- Keeping communication open – Parents should talk openly with their teen and discuss negative behaviours, letting them know that they care about their feelings. Teens might not be receptive to ‘orders’ but will appreciate it if their parents discuss a topic by explaining them the consequences of an action and allowing the teen to make the right choice.
- Involving the teen in social and extracurricular activities – Parents can encourage their teenage son or daughter to participate and volunteer at events in their community and also hone their extracurricular interests like sports, arts, music, etc.
- Letting teenagers know that parents care – Teens may not be open to sharing all feelings with their parents like they did as a child, but they sure would appreciate knowing that their parents are there if they need them. It means a teen can count on them if s/he lands in trouble. Young adults also value if their parents respect their opinion.
- Encouraging the ability to resolve conflicts independently – Parents must help their teen to use their own judgement, make decisions, while being there for giving advice when required.
- Encouraging healthy habits – Parents can encourage their teen to eat healthy, get sufficient exercise and sleep, and use digital media within safe limits. Being drawn into the world of social media and gaming provides a safe haven for teenagers dealing with emotional and social issues, but parents can pitch in by helping their child make good decisions about amount of time spent on Internet, managing junk food intake and being active.
- Talking about safety – From safe driving, responsible drinking and smoking, to safe sexual behaviours, parents can play an important role in educating their growing child to help him/her make rational and safe decisions.
“Adolescents’ personalities and coping habits affect social behaviors,” ScienceDaily.com, August 1, 2012, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120801154845.htm
“Child development – Teenagers (15-17 years of age)” CDC.gov, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/positiveparenting/adolescence2.html