Monday, October 11, 2010

Developmental Tasks of Teens

As your children enter into their teen years, they begin a physical and emotional journey that will bring them into adulthood and parents can play an important role in helping them establish who they are.

Teenagers begin to interact with each other in more adult ways as they mature. Experts at the University of Florida say this is linked to physical development, and that peer groups may change during the teen years as they grow at different rates. While their bodies are changing, teens also are learning to accept their appearance and not feel pressured into the perfect body image.

Sexual maturity also occurs during the teen years. Teens begin to define what it means to be male or female. And while this can be a time to experiment with their image, most conform to society’s definitions of gender. UF researchers say teens often confuse sexual feelings with intimacy, and most do not get into long-term, intimate relationships until later years.

Another teen process many of us are familiar with is establishing independence from parents and other adults. During these years, teens learn to rely on themselves more. Although many do not gain economic independence until after career training or college, it’s during the teen years that they begin to consider careers and their financial independence.

Teens also begin to determine their own values and beliefs, although research shows these are usually based on their parents’ values and beliefs. They begin to work towards socially responsible behavior, such as employment and marriage. It’s important for parents to remember (particularly when the “going gets tough” with teens) that they still have a tremendous influence on their child’s development.

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