Parents often consider their child’s transition from childhood to adolescence in one of two ways: excitement or dread. Most often, parents feel a bit of both.
In particular, social development in adolescence tends to be a parental concern. And, of course, your child needs to have these experiences so that they can mature into adulthood. But that doesn’t make the process any easier!
For parents, it’s helpful to know what to expect during this life transition. Understanding the basics will remove some of the mystery and allow you to plan for what’s coming.
Creating Larger Friend Groups
When they were younger, your child probably spent a lot of time with you and the family. However, now that they are older, their social group is more extensive. What this means that they are likely spending more time with their friends.
Both after school and on weekends, they disappear into their social life. This involvement is crucial for growth. They are learning how to connect and relate to other people outside of their immediate family.
However, it can be hard as a parent to lose those playful, intimate moments that you once shared with your child. It doesn’t mean that your relationship has permanently changed. However, it is evolving as your child moves into adolescence.
Understanding Who They Are
Many teens go through “phases” where they experiment with new identities. This time frame can be confusing for parents, who may interpret these phases as being disingenuous. After all, you know your child best. Why are they pretending to be something they are not?
However, they are not pretending at all. Instead, they are attempting to better understand their identity in their unique way. Keep in mind that they’re searching for their individualism, which is an identity separate from their immediate family.
Know that this kind of experimentation is typical for adolescents, and you should expect it.
Friendships, for most adolescents, are highly prized and cherished. It may be hard to imagine for parents, but often young people will prioritize their friendships over their relationship with their parents.
Why is that? Because, for the most part, adolescents know that their parents love and accept them. Parents are a safe zone.
But forming and creating friendships can be hard. They want to “prove” to their friends that they are cool, they want to feel accepted. That might mean pushing or breaking boundaries at home to gain that acceptance.
Of course, no parent wants to see that happen. However, don’t be surprised if it occurs. One way to approach this situation is by discussing with your child how healthy friendships look. They should be based on genuine acceptance, not on having to earn it.
Struggling with Loss
Who hasn’t heard of the classic teenage crisis of lost love or a broken heart? In the context of adulthood, it might seem easy to write off these moments as trivial. For a teenager, they are painful, and yet essential growing experiences.
Teenagers need to know:
- Losing a relationship or friendship is part of growing up
- One relationship should not define their identity
- That you love and accept them
You can coach and model for your child how to handle these situations best. Even though they can be emotionally painful, they are essential for social development in adolescence.
Teen Counseling for Support
Even if you know what to expect when it comes to social development in adolescence, it still helps to have professional support. Teen counseling can be an extra layer of support for both you and your teen. A therapist will be able to help put things in context for you both as your child moves through this important chapter of their lives.
Please contact our office today or visit my page on teen counseling if you’d like to learn more about how I can help your family.