Changes in adolescents: the challenge of understanding them

Each stage of the life cycle has its positive and negative points. However, many parents are concerned about the arrival of children to adolescence. In order to be more understanding with the changes in adolescents, and the transformations that children of this age are suffering is important to know them thoroughly. This will give us the key to learn to handle the different situations that can take place in adolescence.

The adolescence is a complicated stage, of enormous changes, in which the achievement to achieve is the construction of identity, which implies answering the question "who I am" as someone differentiated from the expectations and desires of parents. At this moment the adolescent realizes that there is a world beyond the family and that one day he will have to move in the world as an adult and independent being.


In this stage, the feeling that predominates is the ambivalence. On the one hand, there is a desire to be greater when adolescents demand the privileges of adults, ask that their space be respected and that they be allowed to make their own decisions. At the same time, there is a fear of growing up and assuming the responsibilities of the adult world, which leads to feelings of longing for children.

Teenagers locked in on themselves

This ambivalence generates insecurity, which can be expressed in multiple ways. Fears and anxieties can lead you to lock yourself in. In fact, many parents become anxious when they perceive that their child he spends a lot of time locked in the room. This self-absorption is also part of the process of identity construction, since the child needs a space of intimacy to feel that he has control over his thoughts and feelings.


For this reason, it is important to respect the privacy of the child, avoiding interrogation, opening emails, reading messages from the mobile phone, searching through drawers, etc., unless there is high suspicion of being in a serious situation, such as substance abuse. Respecting the privacy of your child, will encourage him to feel more secure and confident.

Rebellion: the mirror of insecurity in adolescents

Another way in which adolescents try to express their insecurity and their fears is through what most parents call rebellion. Teens often respond aggressively (leave me alone!) Or derogatory (you have no idea what happens to me!), With monosyllables (yes-no) if they perceive that their parents are violating their privacy (regardless of who are doing it or not).

Many even put parents to the test by questioning the rules as an attempt to confirm that there is a familiar family environment and with well-defined limits. Let's not forget that the teenagers are not adults, so they still need limits and clear rules about what we expect and what we do not expect from them. However, the requirement of understanding should not be separated.


This questioning of norms usually generates feelings of sadness and anger in the parents, who long for a son who in his day was a loving and obedient child. However, these changes in the child should be understood as an attempt to feel control over their life in a stage in which the feelings of insecurity. That is why, far from being lived as a personal attack, it must be understood as part of the normal process. If this is misinterpreted, it can lead to acting inappropriately (for example, criticizing), which in turn can increase the feelings of loneliness, incomprehension, insecurity and sadness. Instead of attacking him when he is irritated, try to understand what is happening and help him express his feelings.

Parents no longer count

As part of this process of identity construction a de-idealization of adults takes place, and the interest is focused on the peer group. The group becomes a refuge for insecurity and a fortress against the threat to independence that adults pose. In adolescents there is a predominant thought in which they maintain that nobody feels or thinks about them and, therefore, nobody can understand them, especially adults. As the peer group is going through the same process, they feel more understood and less threatened when seeking emotional support and advice in the group. The need to belong to a group of equals and to feel accepted is also related to sexual maturity and the discovery of their ability to love and socialize with people outside their family.

Many parents feel displaced when they see that the peer group has become their new point of reference and they are worried if their friends can lead them to do activities that are harmful. In this sense, it is important that you show interest in getting to know the friends of your children, as well as the parents.If your child is very secretive, instead of questioning, you can offer to take your child and friends to some activity, invite them home or be in contact with the parents of friends.

Cristina Noriega García. Institute of Family Studies. CEU San Pablo University

Video: Adolescence - changes and challenges part 1


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